Piedmont Health’s 40th anniversary celebration set for Saturday, Oct. 9

Piedmont Health was founded in 1970 by a group of health care professionals at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and local community members concerned with access to primary health care in the community.

Media contact: Tom Hughes, 919-966-6047, tahughes@unch.unc.edu 

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Piedmont Health, a community health organization that has had close ties to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since its creation in 1970, will hold its 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010.

Piedmont Health was formally incorporated on March 11, 1970 under the name Orange-Chatham Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. (OCCHS) led by Paul Alston. Their primary goal was to provide preventive medical care in the underserved Caswell County community of Prospect Hill and train local residents without previous medical training to help provide the comprehensive health care. Prior to opening the community health center, the new group’s first major project was a program to train nurses to provide primary care in rural areas.
The nurse training program, one of the first family nurse practitioner programs in the U.S. was the brainchild of a group of health care professionals at UNC led by Dr. Glenn Pickard, then an internist at N.C. Memorial Hospital. Pickard was also a longtime member of the UNC School of Medicine faculty.

“What was revolutionary 40 years ago, we take for granted today” said Brian Toomey, CEO of Piedmont Health. “It was a new concept to have family nurse practitioners provide primary health care. Today, family nurse practitioners and physician assistants have made a difference in the lives of tens of millions of people across the United States. UNC’s leadership showed courage and vision to support the community health centers and provide the family nurse practitioner program.”

Since then, OCCHS changed its name to Piedmont Health Services and has expanded to operate a total of six community health centers in central North Carolina. Piedmont Health now serves more than 37,000 patients each year in 14 counties. It provides services to everyone in the community and accepts most insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, and adjusts fees for the uninsured.

Piedmont Health continues to work closely with the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care. Several Piedmont Health providers are UNC faculty members with attending privileges at UNC Hospitals. The Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC), a free medical clinic operated since 1967 by UNC medical students, uses facilities at Piedmont’s Carrboro Community Health Center.

Piedmont also partners with the UNC Department of Family Medicine and UNC Health Care in Carolina Health Net, a program designed to help people seeking medical care to develop an ongoing relationship with a designated provider instead of using emergency rooms. The program helps participants by connecting them with a case manager and primary care doctor, using a team approach to medical care.

"For 40 years Piedmont Health has been a valuable ally to the patients and communities it serves, and to UNC Health Care,” said Dr. Bill Roper, UNC Health Care’s CEO and Dean of the UNC School of Medicine. “We look forward to continuing our close relationship with Piedmont in the decades to come."

The celebration will take place from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Oct. 9, at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center at 4700 Emperor Blvd. in Durham, N.C. Guest tickets are $55 person or $100 a couple. Contact Debra Markley at (919) 619-4340 or guestrsvp@piedmonthealth.org to purchase tickets, or for more information.

For more information, please visit Piedmont’s new website at www.piedmonthealth.org or watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UtgVm6n7XA.

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