April 9, 2010
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The University of North Carolina Board of Governors on Friday approved UNC-Chapel Hill's plan to expand its pharmacy-education program to UNC Asheville in partnership with Mission Health System.
The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in Chapel Hill will create a satellite pharmacy program that will be based at UNC Asheville. The program at UNC Asheville is an expansion of the successful partnership the UNC-Chapel Hill pharmacy school has had with Elizabeth City State University since 2005. That program will graduate its second class in May.
The start-up costs for the program will be covered by a $2.5 million fund-raising initiative spearheaded by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners has pledged $600,000 toward that goal, and the City of Asheville has pledged $100,000. By the fourth year of the program, its cost is projected to be fully covered by tuition and by Mission Health System funding half the clinical faculty's salaries. The partnership program should not require any state funding.
Asheville was considered the natural choice for locating a satellite program because of the close working partnership between UNC Asheville, Mission Health System, and UNC-Chapel Hill. UNC Asheville, a nationally ranked public liberal arts college, is noted for its strong science and mathematics programs.
Like its counterpart at ECSU, the satellite program at UNC Asheville will educate more pharmacists in an area of North Carolina that doesn't have enough health-care providers in general. The UNC Eshleman School of Pharmacy recognized the need for more health-care practitioners in Western North Carolina and made expansion into the area part of its strategic plan five years ago. The satellite program could enroll up to 40 Doctor of Pharmacy students a year. (The Doctor of Pharmacy, or Pharm.D., is the professional degree required to practice as a pharmacist.)
The Asheville community is well known in pharmacy circles for the very successful Asheville Project, which began as a collaboration between the highly ranked UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Mission Health System, the City of Asheville and community pharmacists. It is a multidisciplinary program of care for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It has been widely recognized and copied all across the country.
The project provides intensive education to people with these conditions through their employer's health plan. Patients are also teamed up with community pharmacists who help them understand how to use their medications correctly. The project has resulted in a system in which community pharmacists have developed thriving practices that have improved their patients' health while saving money.
What they are saying
Creating this pharmacy program required the eager participation of many partners. Here are their observations.
Holden Thorp, Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy is widely regarded as one of the top pharmacy programs in the nation in both pharmacy education and pharmaceutical research. This new program at UNC Asheville builds on our partnership with Elizabeth City State University to create a model for pharmacy education in the state that meets the highest standards while remaining economical and scalable. As the state's need for pharmacists fluctuates, the program can easily be scaled up or down to match because investment in infrastructure and facilities is relatively small.
Anne Ponder, Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Asheville
This new initiative is an inspirational example of how partnerships with sister UNC institutions and local community leaders in health care, business and government enable us to invest substantially in our region's future. The new program is in perfect alignment with UNC Asheville's new N.C. Center for Health & Wellness and its work on the maintenance of healthy lifestyles and prevention of chronic diseases and will greatly enhance academic and research opportunities for UNC Asheville students and faculty.
Janet Moore, Director, Marketing and Web Services, Mission Health System
For Mission Health System and Western North Carolina, the arrival of the Pharmacy School to UNC Asheville augments and compliments the growing relationship between Mission Health System and the University of North Carolina. That relationship now includes undergraduate and graduate medical education in partnership with the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, a long-standing pharmacy residency program through the UNC Eschelman School of Pharmacy and most recently an affiliation with the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. We are honored to be selected and excited about the opportunities it presents for our region’s medical community, the students we will be training, and ultimately the patients we serve.
Rick Lutovsky, President and CEO, Asheville Chamber of Commerce
The arrival of the Pharmacy School to UNC Asheville is a prescription for a healthier population and a healthier local economy. Today’s decision by the UNC Board of Governors builds on the work of Mission Health System, the Mountain Area Health Education Center and the Western North Carolina Health Network, a consortium of 16 regional hospitals. These organizations, along with physician practices and the many local businesses that support the hospitals and physicians, comprise a significant economic engine for our region. The Pharmacy School will only strengthen that engine, which is why the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce is committing time and resources to raising the $2.5 million needed to fund the program. It’s an investment in Asheville’s future and the UNC School of Pharmacy that will pay dividends for years to come.
David Gantt, Chairman, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners
We are proud to be a part of the cooperative effort to bring this pharmacy-education program to UNC Asheville. We know that our financial commitment played a crucial role in making this a reality and this commission will stay committed to opportunities like this that benefit the current and future generations of our citizens.
Terry Bellamy, Mayor, City of Asheville
In 1997, the City of Asheville wanted to provide better disease management options for its employees living with chronic diseases, such as diabetes. We looked for partners who were willing to think differently about solving the problem, and we found them at UNC’s Eschelman School of Pharmacy and Mission Health System.
Little did we know that when we developed The Asheville Project, we would make such a significant impact in the lives of patients here in Western North Carolina and across the United States by expanding their care team to include community pharmacists and maximizing patients’ access to these highly-trained professionals. The results speak for themselves. Patients enrolled in The Asheville Project manage their chronic diseases better and enjoy a higher quality of life. Their employers benefit from reduced health care costs and higher productivity. It is a win-win for everyone. We look forward to continuing our tradition of innovation with this newest addition to Asheville's growing medical education community.
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
David Etchison, Communications Director
Merianne Miller, News Services Director
828/251-6676; cell 828/545-6447
Mission Health System
Janet Moore, Director, Marketing & Web Services
828/213-3502; cell 828/778-9300
Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
Rick Lutovsky, President & CEO
Buncombe County Government
Kathy Hughes, Public Relations Director
City of Asheville
Dawa Hitch, Public Information Officer
828/259-5981; cell 828/552-1311