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Mariava Phillips
February 14, 2024

Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center in Ahoskie, North Carolina.

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy was recently awarded a $200,000 grant from Carolina Across 100 to launch a third rural pharmacy hub at the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center in Ahoskie, North Carolina as part of the School’s Rural Pharmacy Health Initiative. This grant enables the School to extend its reach to people in medically underserved communities across North Carolina. The goal is to improve access to care in these areas while creating new, sustainable models for rural health care.  

“I’m so grateful to Carolina Across 100 for recognizing the importance of this endeavor—not only are we reaching rural communities, but we’re also building a pipeline of future pharmacists to work in these medically underserved areas,” said Angela Kashuba, Pharm.D., Dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. 

Carolina Across 100 is a pan-university effort seeking to partner with communities in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties on a variety of high-impact issues. This five-year initiative builds and supports sustainable cross-sector collaborations.  

“Committed service to the people of North Carolina is central to the University’s mission. The placement of a third rural pharmacy hub will improve access to medical care and address inequalities in our communities,” said Interim Chancellor Lee H. Roberts. “I’m grateful for the partnership between Carolina Across 100 and the Eshelman School of Pharmacy in such an important initiative and for their commitment to sustainable improvements in the quality of life for all North Carolinians.” 

The School’s Rural Pharmacy Health Initiative will reach 18 counties total: Bertie, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Jones, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Onslow, Pender, Tyrrell, Washington and Wilson counties. The new rural pharmacy hub in Eastern North Carolina will serve seven counties: Northampton, Bertie, Washington, Hertford, Gates, Tyrrell and Chowan. 

“Carolina Across 100 began its work by asking communities to identify their priorities for partnerships,” said Professor Anita Brown-Graham, director of the ncIMPACT Initiative, coordinating Carolina Across 100. “Not surprisingly, expanding access to health care options in rural North Carolina ranked high on the list. This hub will help offer both individual and community-wide impact.”  

This grant supplements a grant from The Duke Endowment, which will launch rural pharmacy hubs in New Bern and Rocky Mount that will spotlight practice advancement and innovation. These hubs are central to the BEYOND strategic plan and show the School’s commitment to a statewide program that brings communities together to address workforce needs and delivers patient-centered care for rural, medically underserved communities. 

The third rural pharmacy hub anchored in Ahoskie will focus on building the health care workforce needed in Eastern North Carolina. It will advance education and recruitment efforts to inspire young people in the area to pursue pharmacy and see themselves returning to take care of their communities. Part of the funding will be used to hire a rural internship coordinator who will work on relationship building with the community. This role will build the infrastructure to create internships for high school students and Pharm.D. students and support preceptors. The hub will also have a strong emphasis on community engagement, hosting student events in rural areas and providing interprofessional education and practice experiences in rural sites. 

Stephanie Kiser ‘92, BScPhm, leads the Rural Pharmacy Health Initiative as executive director. Under her leadership, she will coordinate all rural pharmacy hub activities and guide them to be self-sustainable. 

“As you travel across the vast, beautiful landscape of rural Eastern North Carolina, it is difficult to miss the fact that residents travel many miles and spend many hours seeking access to health care,” Kiser said. “I am so encouraged and motivated by the generous support offered by Carolina Across 100 as we seek to build the pharmacy workforce of the future. A workforce grown from the rich history and resilient communities of our rural places.” 

Other Carolina Across 100 projects include “Our State, Our Work”, connecting young adults to living wage employment opportunities, and “Our State, Our Wellbeing”, a partnership between Carolina Across 100 and the UNC Suicide Prevention Institute to identify and implement strategies to improve mental health and reduce the number of suicides in North Carolina, and the Tar Heel Bus Tour Grants, awarded to community-campus partnerships formed to support community-engaged work throughout the state.   

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