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Pieces of Eight

Celebrating at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new East Carolina Heart Institute are, from left, Dave McRae, chief executive of University Health Systems of East Carolina, Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., senior associate vice chancellor for health sciences and the director of the new center; Steve Showfety, chair of the ECU Board of Trustees; Phil Dixon, member of the UNC Board of Governors and former chair of the ECU Board of Trustees; and SGA President Cole Jones. Partially hidden, at left, is Chancellor Steve Ballard. (Photo by Doug Boyd)


Heart Institute Moves One Step Closer

By Doug Boyd

The East Carolina Heart Institute took a giant step March 31 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,Š 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.

The institute will be part of the ECU Division of Health Sciences.

In addition to ECU‰s research and treatment facility that will be located across from the Brody Out-patient 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,Š 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.Š

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 educational 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 science and clinical research, robotic-surgery training, future space for simulation laboratories, a clinical outpatient facility for cardiovascular diseases, a database center, 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, will direct the institute.

,The beginning of our collective vision has come to fruition, and we owe this to all of you,Š 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.Š

This page originally appeared in the April 17, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at