Dr. Tommy Ellis discusses diabetes management with a patient. ECU Physicians received national recognition for excellent diabetes care from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

ECU clinicians earn national recognition for diabetes care

March 11, 2016

By Amy Adams Ellis
University Communication

Fifteen clinicians across ECU Physicians have earned national recognition for their skill in providing high-quality care to patients with diabetes.

The clinicians received the three-year Diabetes Recognition Program distinction from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. According to the committee, these providers have demonstrated that they deliver the highest level of diabetes care based on five key measures associated with complications from the disease.

"This recognition represents the dedication and focus that our health care team has related to addressing the many variables of diabetes care," said Dr. Jason Foltz, associate medical director for ECU Physicians and one of the providers recognized.

"Ensuring that we are meeting each component of that care helps potentially decrease the chance of our patients suffering a complication from diabetes."

The ECU providers recognized were Drs. Janice Daugherty, Justin Edwards, Jason Foltz, Susan Keen and Gary Levine from the Family Medicine Center; Drs. Tommy Ellis, Celeste Jackson, Kelly Philpot and physician assistant Mark Harrell from Firetower Medical Office; Drs. Muna Mian and James Powell from Internal Medicine; Drs. Almond Drake and Robert Tanenberg from Endocrinology; and Drs. Lacy Hobgood and Mary Turner from Internal Medicine/Pediatrics.

They are currently the only health care providers in ECU Physicians' 29-county service area to hold this recognition.
Dr. Kelly Philpot of ECU Physicians examines a patient's foot, an important part of diabetes care.

"NCQA's Diabetes Recognition Program honors the vanguard - professionals using the best science to help patients cope with one of modern life's most pervasive illnesses," said NCQA President Margaret E. O'Kane.

"I commend these 15 providers at ECU Physicians for providing high quality care and for going the extra mile to help people with diabetes," O'Kane added. "For a person with diabetes, the right clinician can make the difference between living with diabetes as opposed to suffering from diabetes."

Dr. Tommy Ellis, clinical director for the Firetower Medical Office and a recognition recipient, said the distinction represents the collaborative efforts of the many staff and providers involved in improving the health of ECU Physicians patients living with diabetes.

"Good diabetes care leads to fewer complications surrounding the disease," Ellis said. "In an area of the country where diabetes is prominent, identifying these high-risk patients and getting the needed testing and the key numbers where they need to be leads to fewer amputations, less vision loss, fewer heart attacks and strokes, and less dialysis. Great diabetes care leads to better overall care."

ECU Physicians, the medical practice of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, is the largest and most comprehensive practice in the region - and a leader in patient care, research and education. In partnership with affiliated teaching hospital Vidant Medical Center, the practice is dedicated to improving the health of eastern North Carolina.

For more information about ECU Physicians, visit