Campbell medical school receives $6M from state for rural-focused COVID-19 work

Campbell University’s Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine will receive $6 million to create a rural-focused testing and treatment initiative to the COVID-19 global pandemic as part of the state’s $1.6 billion relief package signed into law on May 4.

Campbell is one of five universities included in the “COVID-19 research” portion of House Bill 1043 — joining Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, East Carolina and Wake Forest. The $6 million allocated to Campbell directly impacts the work and mission of the University, which has been tasked to form a community- and rural-focused primary care workforce response to the pandemic, which has affected 3.6 million people worldwide, 1.2 million Americans and nearly 12,000 North Carolinians through May 5. 

Medical faculty and students at Campbell will work to “support community testing initiatives, provide treatment in community-based health care settings, monitor rural populations, educate health professionals on best practices for a pandemic response and support rural communities through primary care,” according to language in the bill. 

School of Medicine Interim Dean Dr. Jim Powers said the school is “extremely grateful” for the $6 million appropriation.

“Campbell, with its medical faculty, students and affiliated residency training programs at partner hospitals throughout North Carolina, is uniquely positioned to serve rural communities and maximize the strategic utilization and positive impact of these funds,” Powers said.“We have already implemented innovative educational models and are currently collaborating with residency program leadership and the Campbell University Community Care Clinic to develop initiatives for a community- and rural-focused primary care workforce response to COVID-19 through testing, monitoring and improved primary care access.”

Campbell’s medical school was launched in 2013, becoming North Carolina’s first osteopathic medical school and the state’s first new medical school of any kind in 35 years. The school graduated its first class of doctors in 2017, and by this summer will have sent nearly 600 physicians into the nation’s health care system — many of who have chosen to remain in North Carolina and train in Campbell affiliated residency programs at Harnett Health, Sampson Regional, Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and Southeastern Health.

State Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), a Campbell alumnus, said he is proud to have the medical school in his district and proud of the school’s inclusion in the COVID-19 relief package.

“Campbell’s commitment to ensuring health care access in rural and underserved areas sets their program apart,” Lewis said. “We are delighted to secure the funding needed for their new rural-focused COVID-19 testing and treatment initiative.”

Britt Davis, vice president for institutional advancement, added that Campbell University is honored to be included in the state’s relief efforts.

“Campbell’s medical school and health science programs are proud to have a significant role with COVID-19 research and healthcare delivery,” Davis said. “We are deeply grateful for the support of Campbell University graduates, attendees, and members of the Harnett County delegation who serve in the General Assembly, including Speaker Tim Moore, Rep. David Lewis, Sen. Harry Brown, Rep. Billy Richardson, Rep. Sarah Stevens, Rep. Frank Iler, Sen. Jim Burgin, and. Rep. John Sauls.”