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PCMH named a top endocrinology hospital by U.S. News & World Report

GREENVILLE   (July 7, 2006)   —   Pitt County Memorial Hospital, the teaching hospital of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, has been named among the nation's top 50 centers for treatment of endocrinology disorders.

U.S. News & World Report magazine has ranked PCMH 50th among its list of top endocrinology centers throughout the nation. U.S. News takes into account mortality rates, technology, the ratio of registered nurses to beds and other data that are keys to quality patient care. U.S. News also considers the center's reputation among physicians.

The "Best Hospitals" issue will appear on newsstands Monday.

Endocrinology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the endocrine system and its specific secretions, hormones. Hormones are molecules that act as signals from one type of cell to another. Most hormones reach their targets via the bloodstream.

Diabetes is a leading endocrine disorder. It develops when the body either fails to produce insulin, known as type 1 diabetes, or develops insulin resistance, known as type 2. One function of insulin is to regulate blood-sugar levels. Both types of diabetes are associated with several serious or life-threatening conditions including heart disease and stroke, nerve damage, kidney disease and blindness. In hospital patients, diabetes can lead to infections, longer hospital stays and other problems.

Dr. Christopher Newton, an endocrinologist at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, said PCMH has embraced a pair of programs that help diabetes patients. One is an inpatient blood sugar-management program that monitors patients' glucose levels and treats them accordingly, reducing complications. The other is a diabetes fellowship program at ECU, supported in part by PCMH, where physicians take a year of specialized diabetes training.

"Those two things have helped eastern North Carolina tremendously," said Newton, an assistant professor of medicine.

In addition, earlier this year ECU received a $491,000 grant from Johnson & Johnson to further study why diabetes goes away in patients who have gastric-bypass surgery. The goal is to understand the process and develop a medicine that can mimic it.

Diabetes disproportionately strikes African-Americans. In eastern North Carolina, the diabetes mortality rate for non-whites is 150 percent greater than the rate for whites, according to the ECU Center for Health Services Research and Development.

The overall burden of diabetes is greater in eastern North Carolina than in the rest of the state and nation, according to the CHSRD. Bertie County has the highest diabetes death rate in the region with 62.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

RTI International in Research Triangle Park compiled all hospital data and developed the 2006 rankings on behalf of U.S. News & World Report.


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2481