The East Carolina Heart Institute at Pitt County Memorial Hospital opens for business

Written By  Jimmy Ryals  on  1/11/2009 9:54:52 AM


Contact: Jimmy Ryals, UHS Public Relations, 252-847-0413 or

The East Carolina Heart Institute at Pitt County Memorial Hospital opens for business GREENVILLE, N.C. - The future of cardiovascular care has arrived at Pitt County Memorial Hospital. Cardiovascular services at the hospital moved to the East Carolina Heart Institute at PCMH Sunday, nearly three years after ground was broken on the facility. The $160 million patient bed tower officially opens Monday morning.

"We've worked very hard to open this new chapter for eastern Carolina," said PCMH President Steve Lawler. "It's an exciting day for Pitt County Memorial Hospital, our community and the entire state."

The new six-story, 375,000-square-foot inpatient care facility is home to 120 inpatient cardiovascular beds, six operating rooms and 11 interventional laboratories.

 North Carolina's need for better cardiovascular care is acute. Heart disease is the state's leading killer over the last five years, according to the State Center for Health Statistics.Eastern North Carolina struggles even more with heart disease. The heart disease death rate in 2007 in PCMH's 29-county service area was nearly a quarter higher than the state rate.

PCMH and East Carolina University developed the East Carolina Heart Institute to reshape cardiovascular health across North Carolina, said Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., director of the Heart Institute.

"We have a common mission: to change the health of North Carolina in the next 20 years," said Chitwood. "It's not only inpatient clinical care, research, education or prevention. It's a multi-tiered effort - it's scientists, it's educators, it's everyone."

Some 100 patients moved into the new building over the weekend. They moved to rooms designed to accommodate families in new ways. Each room has a family area equipped with its own television, lighting, phone line and seats that convert for sleeping.

"Our patients' loved ones know them better than we ever will," said Brian Floyd, executive director of the East Carolina Heart Institute. "We've designed this building specifically to make families a bigger part of the treatment process."

Completion of the heart institute also inaugurates a new way of treating cardiovascular disease. ECU and PCMH have reorganized their cardiovascular services, aligning them by disease processes rather than traditional academic disciplines. The move brings cardiologists, heart surgeons and vascular surgeons together and promises to increase communication among clinicians, according to Floyd. The new organization "puts patients in the center," he said.

The new bed tower at PCMH joins the other half of the East Carolina Heart Institute, the $60 million research, education and outpatient care facility at East Carolina University. The four-story, 206,000-square-foot ECU building opened in September 2008. ECU and PCMH jointly dedicated the East Carolina Heart Institute last month.


University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina includes Bertie Memorial Hospital, Chowan Hospital, Duplin General Hospital, Heritage Hospital, The Outer Banks Hospital, Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Roanoke-Chowan Hospital; University Home Health and Hospice; ViQuest; physician practices; and is affiliated with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.