Public Service

Pharmacy school expands rural reach to Ahoskie

A Carolina Across 100 grant will fund the launch of a pharmacy hub to serve seven eastern counties.

Exterior building image of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center underneath cloudy sky.
(Photo courtesy of Eshelman School of Pharmacy)

With a $200,000 grant from Carolina Across 100, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy will expand its Rural Pharmacy Health Initiative with a third rural pharmacy hub at the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center in Ahoskie, North Carolina.

The initiative’s goal is to improve access to care in medically underserved communities across the state 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, pharmacy dean.

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 new rural pharmacy hub in eastern North Carolina will serve seven counties: Bertie, Chowan, Gates, Hertford, Northampton, Tyrrell and Washington. Overall, the initiative serves these counties plus 11 more: Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Edgecombe, Halifax, Jones, Martin, Nash, Onslow, Pender and Wilson.

“Carolina Across 100 began its work by asking communities to identify their priorities for partnerships,” said 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 Ahoskie hub 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, pharmacy doctoral 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.

The goal of the initiative’s executive director, Stephanie Kiser ’92, is to 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.”

Read about more Carolina Across 100 projects.