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Officials mark construction milestone at heart institute
Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr. will lead the East Carolina Heart Institute. Photo by Cliff Hollis
(June 1, 2007)
East Carolina University held a traditional "topping-out" ceremony Thursday, May 31 to mark a milestone in the construction of the university's portion of the East Carolina Heart Institute.
The event took place at the construction site beside the Warren Life Sciences Building on the ECU health sciences campus.
In the topping-out ceremony, officials signed the final beam installed at the top of the structure, in this case, the four-story, 206,000-square-foot clinical, research and education building.
The heart institute comprises two buildings. The $60 million ECU building will house offices and research labs for cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, vascular surgeons and scientists. It also will house outpatient treatment and educational facilities. State funding for the building was approved in 2004, and officials broke ground in March 2006.
The six-story, 375,000-square-foot, $150 million cardiovascular bed tower Pitt County Memorial Hospital is building on Moye Boulevard will house operating rooms, interventional labs and 120 patient beds. University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, parent company of PCMH, is funding its construction. Both buildings are scheduled to be complete in 2008.
Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr. will be director of the institute. Chitwood is senior associate vice chancellor for health sciences at ECU and chief of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery in the Department of Surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in eastern North Carolina. In the 29-county region, the mortality rate from coronary heart disease is 12.9 percent greater than in the rest of the state. The age-adjusted coronary heart disease death rate is 185.8 for every 100,000 people. If the region were a state, that rate would rank it 13th worst in the country, according to the ECU Center for Health Services Research and Development.