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East Carolina Heart Institute moves one step closer

From left, University Health Systems chief Dave McRae, Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., director of the East Carolina Heart Institute, share a laugh during the ground-breaking ceremonies. Photo by Doug Boyd
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Mar. 31, 2006)   —   The East Carolina Heart Institute took a giant step today when officials broke ground for the new $60 million cardiac research and treatment center at East Carolina University.

"The East Carolina Heart Institute will be another jewel in the crown of this world-renowned medical community," said Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who joined ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard; Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., who will serve as director of the new center; Dave McRae, chief executive of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, the parent of Pitt County Memorial Hospital; Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and others on a sunny, windy and festive spring afternoon.

The institute is designed to be a world-class cardiovascular center offering state-of-the-art medical technology, education and research. In addition to ECU's research and treatment facility that will be across from the Brody Outpatient Center, PCMH is building a $150 million, 120-bed cardiovascular center on the east side of the hospital. The facilities should open in 2008.

"We have no greater partner than Pitt County Memorial Hospital," Ballard said. "Our students train there, our residents spend most of their waking hours there. Today, we break ground on the latest and most forward-looking component of that partnership -- the East Carolina Heart Institute."

Planning for the institute began in early 2003. The N.C. General Assembly appropriated $60 million in 2004 for ECU to build a new center for cardiovascular research, outpatient programs and education. In January 2005, the N.C. Division of Facility Services approved PCMH's request to begin building the new cardiovascular tower that will be the inpatient part of the institute.

ECU's facility will house clinical, research and education components where faculty and staff will work together in outpatient care, research, training and educational activities. The four-story, 206,000-square-foot facility will house basic science and clinical research, a robotic-surgery training program, future space for simulation laboratories, a clinical outpatient facility for cardiovascular diseases, a database center, physician offices and an auditorium.

Chitwood, 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, will serve as director of the institute.

"The beginning of our collective vision has come to fruition, and we owe this to all of you," Chitwood said to the crowd of hospital and university officials, lawmakers and others who helped bring the institute to Greenville. "You have worked tirelessly gaining grassroots support to make possible what will soon be on this medical campus."


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2481