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Dr. Lisa Staton                Dr. Sangnya Patel                                            

Reynolds grant to support medical education, resource clinic

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has received a two-year, $194,665 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to support a clinic that will provide care for indigent patients and be a major training site for health care students and professionals.

The Medical Education and Resource Clinic at ECU will coordinate care of indigent patients by assembling a team of professionals, including social workers, nutritionists, nurses, pharmacists and family therapists, and their respective trainees, under the auspices of a team coordinator.

Dr. Lisa Staton, assistant professor of medicine, and Dr. Sangnya Patel, clinical associate professor of medicine, will serve as co-medical directors of the clinic. It's scheduled to open this fall in the Hardy Building in Physicians Quadrangle on Memorial Drive.

"The MERCE Clinic is unique in several regards," Staton said. "We plan to target patients for whom there are generous resources but for whom there is little provider reimbursement. For that reason we chose to depend on supervised trainees in several disciplines for cost-effective support."

The clinic will be part of the division of general internal medicine inside the Department of Internal Medicine. The division provides primary care for approximately 5,500 indigent and uninsured patients each year. These patients come from around eastern North Carolina; demographically, they have an average household income of $8,700, 65 percent are women and 75 percent are over 40.

The clinic will encourage patients to take charge of their own health, Staton said. "We plan to emphasize self-help and self-discipline rather than rely solely on medicines," she said. "We plan to utilize free or low-cost community programs and health department resources, again stretching available dollars to provide comprehensive care. And we believe all of this will be transferable to a proposed community health center once that is developed."

The trust will fund $126,180 this year and $68,485 in 2006 to support the clinic.

In addition to Staton, others who worked on the grant proposal were Dr. Bruce Johnson, professor of general internal medicine; Dr. Mark Darrow, medical director of ECU Physicians; and Regina Coyle, a physician extender with ECU CARE, a program that offers qualifying patients financial assistance for services provided by ECU Physicians.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was created in 1947 by the will of Mrs. William Neal Reynolds of Winston-Salem. Three-fourths of the trust's grants are designated for health-related programs and services across North Carolina, and one-fourth for the poor and needy of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

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