Awards Total $555,000 from Golden LEAF
By Doug Boyd
Three projects involving East Carolina University have received a total of $555,000 in grants from the Golden LEAF Foundation.
The grants will help fund a math and sciences education project, a health workforce development project and an expansion of ECU’s telemedicine network.
Following are brief summaries of the grants:
• Rural Eastern North Carolina Telehealth Network, $350,000. This grant will help add four telemedicine sites in the medically underserved rural communities of Faison in Duplin County, Belhaven in Beaufort County, Tillery in Halifax County and Hatteras in Dare County. The project will increase access to specialty care, improve continuity of care and improve the retention and recruitment of health professionals in these communities by reducing professional isolation. The project will also study telemedicine’s impact on health and the community. Dr. Peter Kragel, interim director of the ECU Center for Health Sciences Communication and professor and chairman of the ECU Department of Pathology; and Scott Simmons, assistant director of the ECU Telemedicine Center within CHSC, are leading the project.
• Rural Health Scholars Internship and Workforce Development, $175,000. This grant will help expand the Minority Rural Health Summer Scholars Internship into Bertie, Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, and Pasquotank counties. Each year, the program will target at least 20 minority or disadvantaged students enrolled in health-occupation courses who want to complete a senior clinical practicum and obtain certification as a nursing assistant. Students will be assigned a mentor and must complete an internship during the summer between their junior and senior year of high school. After completing their senior year and passing the certified nursing assistant exam, participants will be offered employment by health care agencies in their communities after successful application and acceptance into a health-career program at a community college, ECU or other institution. Deborah Ramey, director of allied health, public health, dental health, health careers and workforce diversity for the Eastern Area Health Education Center, and Tashara James, assistant director, will lead the project.
• Summer Science Camp, $30,000. This project will provide a science camp experience at ECU for at least 100 children ranging from kindergartners to sixth graders from tobacco-dependent or economically distressed families in Pitt, Craven, Lenoir, Greene, Beaufort, Wilson and Martin counties. Golden LEAF funds will be used for scholarships, counselors and transportation. Dr. John Meredith, clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Brody School of Medicine; and Shawn Laatch, a visiting instructor in the Department of Math and Science Education, will lead the project. The Morehead Planetarium at UNC - Chapel Hill is a partner in the project.
The Foundation also awarded $350,000 for the James T. Bernstein Community Health Center in north Greenville.
The Golden LEAF Foundation, a nonprofit corporation, receives funds from the settlement agreement with cigarette manufacturers. In turn, the foundation helps North Carolinians make the transition from a tobacco-dependent economy through grants and investments that improve the state's economy.