LILLINGTON — Harnett Health System, Inc. and Campbell University announced the establishment of a formal, strategic partnership to transform health care in Harnett County and beyond on Tuesday. The partnership will include a residency program to train and keep Campbell physicians in the area after training.
"Health care organizations that are successful build strategically important and stable partnerships to enhance the quality of care, reduce the costs of care and expand the scope of health care services across a significant geographical region," said Harnett Health President and CEO Ken Bryan. This partnership accomplishes all three goals to ensure health care is developed throughout our area."
Campbell's Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine welcomed its first class of 160 students in August, and those students will spend the first two years learning on the Harnett County campus in state-of-the-art simulation and anatomy labs before being assigned to training opportunities in regional community hospitals.
Both organizations are working to have a residency program with Harnett Health in place for 2015 to provide the continued training for these students.
Dr. John Kauffman, dean of the School of Osteopathic Medicine, said this model is ideal for training primary care physicians, particularly physicians who will practice in rural and underserved areas.
“By placing our students in community hospitals for their third and fourth years and having residency programs available once they graduate, we believe it will enable our students to put down roots and become the next generation of physicians who practice in this community,” Kauffman said. “These students will be your pediatricians, your family doctors, your internists, your surgeons, your OBGYNs and your emergency medical physicians.”
North Carolina currently ranks 34th in the nation in primary care physicians. The need is particularly great in rural counties. Though there are four other allopathic medical schools in North Carolina, fewer than half of medical school graduates from North Carolina medical schools remain in North Carolina to practice.
"The ability for Campbell University to supply quality providers of care and the ability for Harnett Health to offer the chance for those providers to practice medicine is a marriage of tremendous benefit to citizens," said Campbell President Jerry Wallace.
However, the partnership doesn’t end with the training of primary care physicians.
“Campbell University is providing comprehensive training for North Carolina’s next generation of healthcare professionals," said Ronald W. Maddox, Pharm. D., chairman of the Harnett Health Board of Trustees. “With an approach that emphasizes interprofessional training among students in Campbell’s pharmacy, physician assistant, clinical research, physical therapy, public health and medical programs, Harnett Health and Campbell University are indeed poised to transform healthcare in Harnett County and beyond.”
The organizations have already contributed significantly to this transformation through the opening of Central Harnett Hospital and the opening of the Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine. These aligned efforts are the largest single capital investment in Harnett County's history.
Ernest Alphin, chairman of the Harnett Health Board of Trustees' Finance Committee, said, "This is a significant investment by Harnett Health. Our board is steadfast in its resolve to make sure we continue to invest appropriately in the growth of healthcare in the area and in making a major positive impact on the local economy."
"It is an extremely exciting time for all invested in healthcare in our region," added H. West Lawson, MD, WakeMed's Chief Medical Officer and Harnett Health Board of Trustees member. "This partnership represents years of hard work from both Campbell University and Harnett Health as they continue to improve access to quality healthcare in Eastern North Carolina through training and job opportunities for providers. It is also a huge benefit to citizens to stay close to home for their healthcare needs."
Harnett Health will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the opening of Central Harnett Hospital in Lillington on Jan. 18. The state-of-the art facility increased access to health care for residents in a five-county area in 2013. From its opening through the end of December, the new hospital treated 19,835 emergency patients and 1,107 inpatients, provided imaging services to 18,965 and performed 95,284 lab procedures and 556 surgeries.