Welcome to the Department of Emergency Medicine

Our Mission

  • to provide and continue to improve the quality of health care services whenever and wherever the patient needs them;
  • to promote scholarly activity regarding emergency health care through education and research;
  • and to maximize the accumulation and utilization of resources in order to accomplish service and scholarly activities, and promote the wellness and satisfaction of department members.

Message from the Chair

In 1980, the Department of Emergency Medicine at East Carolina University was inaugurated as the fourth academic department of emergency medicine in the United States. In the more than 25 years since then, ECU Emergency Medicine has produced a record of service, scholarship, and education. The department has undoubtedly benefited from the artful leadership of its previous chairs, Drs. Jack Allison and Nicholas Benson, and interim chair, Dr. Herb Garrison. Each left a legacy of contributions that helped to make ECU Emergency Medicine what it is.

Today we are a vibrant department of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, with 43 faculty members and 42 residents. Our clinical home is Vidant Medical Center, which serves as the primary teaching hospital for the medical school. The recently renovated emergency department is more than 40,000 square feet with 58 dedicated treatment areas. An additional nine treatment spaces are located at our detached MedDirect facility, which is designed to expeditiously evaluate and treat minor illnesses and injuries. Vidant Medical Center has more than 750 licensed beds and will expand dramatically in 2009 when the new cardiac tower is opened. In 2013, the emergency department treated more than 120,000 patients from a catchment area that is 29 North Carolina counties large. Within the region we serve as the principal source of emergency care for Level I trauma, stroke, pediatrics, poisoning, and acute cardiac disease.

Since its inception, ECU Emergency Medicine has focused on scholarship through developing new knowledge, translating evolving knowledge, and disseminating discovered knowledge. The interests of our faculty are broad and account for the range of their academic endeavors. Our faculty has developed national reputations in emergency medical services, injury prevention, toxicology, domestic violence, disaster preparedness, spinal cord research, and education. Over the years, their works have resulted in meaningful contributions to the field of emergency medicine and our community.

Through Vidant Medical Center, ECU Emergency Medicine hosts outstanding residency programs in emergency medicine and emergency medicine/internal medicine. The 12 residents per year in the EM program and the two per year in the EM/IM program benefit from an amazingly broad pathology in the emergency department and on busy services throughout the medical center. Residents have matriculated to ECU from across the country and have subsequently moved throughout the country to enjoy successful careers as clinicians and academicians. Residents in our current classes have brought diverse backgrounds and experiences to our program. As a group they possess broad career interests and are developing exciting plans for themselves.

Several features of our medical center make ECU Emergency Medicine an exciting place to be. Our faculty provide medical direction for the county’s EMS system and the EastCare Critical Care Transport system. The EMS system encompasses a spectrum that includes a career fire and rescue department and very rural volunteers. EastCare, with its three helicopters and multiple ground mobile intensive care units, completed more than 8,000 critical-care transports last year. Our toxicologists received cases of all sorts from near and far, providing interesting substrate for learning and clinical practice. Additionally, the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program is a model for studying and reducing the burden of injury in North Carolina. These attributes, which help to make our department unique, represent just one narrow view into the world of ECU Emergency Medicine.

It is an honor and pleasure to serve as the chair of ECU Emergency Medicine. I hope on behalf of the faculty, resident physicians, and extraordinary staff that the accompanying web pages provide valuable insights to our dynamic program.


Leigh Patterson, MD, MAEd
Interim Chair