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The Mountain Area Health Education Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have partnered for the construction of a new academic health center building on MAHEC’s Biltmore campus in Asheville.

UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC seeks to address health care worker shortages and improve education across a number of health science fields in western North Carolina. The UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC building supports an innovative educational partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and MAHEC and will house UNC School of Medicine’s Asheville campus; a Master of Public Health program led by UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health; MAHEC’s psychiatry residency program and psychiatry outpatient care; and health care research, education and community engagement initiatives at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

UNC-Chapel Hill and MAHEC have a shared commitment to address health care workforce shortages in North Carolina. All 16 western North Carolina counties are considered primary care health professional shortage areas, or areas with too few providers to meet the health care needs of the population. By training health care professionals in western North Carolina, and placing students in long-term internships across the region, UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC encourages more health providers to practice in western North Carolina, an initiative that stands to make a significant impact on the region’s economy and access to health care.

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy has a satellite campus in Asheville, N.C. and has partnered with MAHEC for many years.

“Our students and faculty are eager to address North Carolina’s health care needs, and the new programs based at MAHEC will be a significant step forward for improving access to quality interprofessional health care in western North Carolina,” said Robert Blouin, Pharm.D., executive vice chancellor and provost of UNC-Chapel Hill. “We are very appreciative of the generous support from the people of North Carolina that has made UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC a reality.”

The establishment of UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC was made possible by the people of North Carolina through 2015 and 2016 state appropriations totaling $8 million in nonrecurring funds for building construction and $18.6 million in recurring funds to support the development of UNC-Chapel Hill’s academic programs to train and expand the health care workforce in medically underserved western North Carolina.

The three-story, 37,000-square-foot building will be completed in spring 2019 and includes classrooms and incubator spaces that will bring together family medicine clinicians, pharmacists, public health professionals, researchers, residents, students, UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, and community health partners.

“The UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC building will be the hub for the regional campuses of the school of medicine and school of public health,” said Jeff Heck, chief executive officer of MAHEC. “This academic health center and our strong regional partnerships will serve as a national model for rural health care transformation.”

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