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Assistant vice chancellor for Health Sciences Julius Mallette (far right) has taken on new responsibilities that include a focus on improving access to health care in the region. Above, Mallette appeared at an event with (left to right) Jim Westmoreland, associate dean in the College of Business; Dr. Walter Pories, professor of surgery at the Brody School of Medicine; and Steve Clarke, a senior research fellow with McNeil Nutritionals. The occasion was an announcement of a Johnson & Johnson grant to look for new treatments for diabetes. (Photo by Marc J. Kawanishi)

Mallette Shifts Focus to Region's Health Care Needs

By Jeannine Manning Hutson

The career of Dr. Julius Mallette and the Brody School of Medicine are entwined like vines around a post. It’s hard to talk about one without the other.

Mallette is a proud member of the second class of the Brody School of Medicine, then known as the School of Medicine at East Carolina University. He graduated in 1982.

During his career, he has delivered more babies than he can count. He lost count three years ago, after reaching 2,000. He had actually stopped seeing obstetrical patients, but he was begged back into service by patients from years before. He couldn’t say no, so now he sees patients on selected days.

That seems to be the theme of Mallette’s career at ECU as well. There’s a need, someone asks, and he just can’t say no because he sees the need too.

The newest need that he’ll be focusing his attention on is improving access to health care for people in eastern North Carolina and continuing his work in women’s health, but at the ECU Student Health Center not just Brody clinics. He is assistant vice chancellor for health sciences with an emphasis on addressing the region’s health disparities.

Mallette has been named director of the telehealth program at the medical school. Telehealth uses communication technology to improve health status; ECU’s telehealth program is housed in the Center for Health Sciences Communications.

Telehealth differs from telemedicine in that the latter is medical care provided by a health care provider. Telehealth may involve efforts to promote healthy lifestyle changes, improve medical compliance, inform citizens on a variety of health issues, answer questions related to health behavior, enhance access to health care services, health literacy and adult education, and provide access to support groups located in other cities.

Mallette will also lead a women’s health initiative at the ECU Student Health Center.

“Women make up 61 percent of the ECU student population,” Mallette said. “We need programs to improve health of college-aged women. We want to address self-esteem issues, self-image issues, eating disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases.”

Mallette said women’s health issues are more than just telling young women not to smoke, even though that is part of it.

“We must develop a culture that is thinking about health,” he said.

For example, if a young woman has been exposed to the human papillomavirus, there are usually no symptoms. And because there are no symptoms the patient may not think that having a screening for HPV is important, Mallette said. Young women exposed to HPV between the ages of 16 and 18 are at greater risk for cervical cancer at a younger age later in their lives, he added.

“We know that having Pap smear cervical cancer screening can save lives. And since HPV types are predictors of who is at greatest risk for cervical cancer then we need to educate those at risk on the importance of the HPV screening,” Mallette said.

“We have the tools and know what to do. My role will be to develop strategies to bring these together into the Student Health Center for students who will benefit from the care. And I’ll see some patients,” he said.

 Dr. Michael J. Lewis, vice chancellor for health sciences, said that Mallette’s contributions to the medical school through the years have been numerous and important to the growth of the school. “He has worked on the administrative level and most importantly student support. He has served as a wonderful mentor for students for many years,” Lewis said.

In his role as assistant vice chancellor for health sciences, Lewis said, Mallette will use telehealth to help project the resources of the health sciences division into the region to address its health status.

“As a part of his role in health sciences, he will also be working with others to create a center for health disparities. He will be working to identify the components for that center that could be brought in. We would hope to develop a recognized center of excellence to draw more resources to address disparities,” he said.

Lewis added, “His passion is the elimination of these health disparities. He is very kind and dedicated individual. He truly cares about the patients from all walks of life.”

4/23/07
This page originally appeared in the July 28, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at http://www.ecu.edu/news/poe/Arch.cfm.