"I am thrilled," said ECU Student Health Center Director Kay Wilkerson at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday (Sept. 5) for the new 12,200 square foot addition and the newly renovated 17,000 square foot original building. The project cost nearly $4.18 million and is covered by student health fees.
"It's a great day for us," Wilkerson said as she cited some of the history surrounding the original building that was built in 1930.
In the 1930s ECU was a teacher's college. Its enrollment of around 1,200 students was comprised of mostly women.
The function of the "Infirmary," according to Wilkerson, was to provide short-stay inpatient care to prevent illnesses from spreading within campus dormitories. Two nurses lived in the building and local physicians from the community alternated as needed in making "rounds."
As the university grew during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the Student Health Center changed to outpatient care with stronger emphasis on health education. Staff numbers increased. A pharmacy was added along with x-ray equipment and a clinical laboratory.
By the 1990s, when the student population climbed to more than 17,000, the building could barely house the services its staff provided.
The N.C. Legislature approved funding for the construction project in 1996 and the new addition was completed in October of 2000. The renovation of the original building was finished last May.
The completion of the Student Health Center is "another milestone in our efforts to better serve the needs of our students," said Dr. Garrie Moore, ECU's Vice Chancellor for Student Life, who spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony. He also recognized the efforts of ECU's first full-time physician and director, Dr. Fred Irons, retired, who began work at the center in 1967. Irons and his wife, Dr. Malene Irons, attended the ceremony.
Board of Trustees chairman Charles Franklin of Elizabeth City described the building at a "state of the art medical facility." He said it was important to the campus because it will provide "expanded and improved medical services for students."
The building offers a medical clinic with a spacious and inviting reception and waiting area, private treatment rooms and staff offices. Included are health education areas with a classroom, conference rooms, a room for x-rays with new equipment, and expanded pharmacy and physical therapy areas.
Chancellor William Muse added his praise and congratulations for the completition of the building. "Student health is an important concern for us…because student learn more effectively when they are healthy," he said.
"The Student Health Center will serve our campus well."
ECU News Bureau