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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Healthkeeperz’ gift to aid nursing program at UNCP

Healthkeeperz, a regional, comprehensive home healthcare provider headquartered in Pembroke, N.C., announced a gift of $250,000 to endow a distinguished professorship in the Nursing Department at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

In the Howard and Brenda B. Brooks Home Health Lab at UNCP’s new nursing facilty are from left: Landa Brooks Strickland, Tim Brooks, president of Healthkeeperz and Chairman Howard Brooks.

In the Howard and Brenda B. Brooks Home Health Lab at UNCP’s new nursing facilty are from left: Landa Brooks Strickland, Tim Brooks, president of Healthkeeperz and Chairman Howard Brooks.

The contribution was announced September 15 at the ribbon cutting for an Instructional Technology Center for UNCP’s new four-year nursing program. The center is located on Southeastern Regional Medical Center’s (SRMC) Lumberton, N.C., campus.

The Brenda B. Brooks Endowed Distinguished Professorship will fund a faculty position in UNCP’s Nursing Department. The gift will be made over five years and will be matched by the state.

Healthkeeperz also contributed to the home health lab in the Instructional Technology Center. It is one of five clinical training labs in the renovated facility. It is named in honor of Howard and and the late Brenda B. Brooks.

Howard Brooks is founder and chairman of Healthkeeperz, which offers home health, medical equipment, pharmacy and respiratory care programs that serve the region. It has 560 employees.

Brooks said UNCP’s new nursing program is good for healthcare of all kinds in the region.

“We are not making this gift because we have so many resources, but because it is worth the sacrifice to help the development of UNCP’s nursing program,” Brooks said. “It will have a ripple effect throughout the region.”

“This nursing program will benefit nursing in home health care as well, and produce positive outcomes for our patients and holistically lift the health of our region,” Brooks said.

Looking into the future, Healthkeeperz President Tim Brooks envisioned more professional and managerial healthcare programs at UNCP.

“What Greenville (East Carolina University) is today we have the potential to develop, even a medical school,” Brooks said.

Brooks raised a few eyebrows with that statement, but Healthkeeperz’ remarkable growth since its origins in 1994 is evidence of the rapidly-changing playing field in health care.

Howard Brooks said he is pleased to join in a partnership with UNCP and SRMC.

“Our desire to be a part of the development of the nursing program is multiple,” Brooks said. “In the clinical aspect, we envision a collaboration between the Nursing Department and home health care providers. We expect state-of-the-art training for care in the home.”

“Second, we are hopeful that healthcare management is integrated into the University’s programs,” he said. “We believe that health care delivery will become more professional and efficient, and that it will provide more positive patient outcomes.”

There is considerable room for improvement in health care in this region, said nursing Professor Cherry Beasley.

“If North Carolina east of I-95 were the 51st state, we would rank last in health care,” Beasley said. “With three major partners like UNCP, Southeastern (SRMC) and Healthkeeperz, I don’t know what can stop us,” she said.

UNCP Nursing Department Interim Director Barbara Synoweiz thanked Healthkeeperz for its contribution.

“The endowment of a professorship in nursing is great news,” Dr. Synoweiz said. “This is so exciting for us, and I thank you for your commitment to nursing.”

UNCP’s Chancellor Allen C. Meadors also thanked Healthkeeperz.

“It is gifts like this one from Howard and Tim Brooks of Healthkeeperz that will make our nursing program truly outstanding,” Chancellor Meadors said. “Together, we can improve health care delivery for all the people in our region.”

UNCP’s nursing program started in 1992 with a BSN program for Registered Nurses. Last spring, the University cleared final hurdles for a four-year, pre-licensure program with 200 students. The program earned accreditation in May 2005 from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education for 10 years without recommendations.

For questions about UNCP’s nursing program, please call 910.775.4140 or email nursing@uncp.edu.

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