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ECC and Central Piedmont Partner in Online Program

Edgecombe Community College and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte have established a partnership to benefit health information technology (HIT) students. HIT instructors at ECC are (from left) Christine Keel; Nacole Everette, program chair; and Carla Gray.

For two weeks last winter, Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte shut down following a ransomware attack that compromised much of the school’s computerized data.

Numerous students were in danger of missing a full semester, or in some cases, possibly graduation, including 17 students in its health information technology program.

That’s when Edgecombe Community College stepped in to help.

“They reached out to us, and we shared our courses with them,” explains Nacole Everette, chair of ECC’s Health Information Technology (HIT) program. “We were pleased that Central Piedmont was able to use our HIT curriculum in their learning management system.”

The temporary fix for those 17 students has morphed into a full-fledged partnership. The two institutions have signed an agreement that enables Central Piedmont students to take HIT classes at Edgecombe Community College.

Health Information Technology is an online program at ECC, so Central Piedmont students don’t have to travel to Tarboro to complete the program.

“The online format offers a unique opportunity for this partnership,” Everette says.

Health Information Technology deals with electronically processing, maintaining, compiling, and reporting health information.

In 2020, Central Piedmont already had decided to discontinue its HIT program, and the 17 students who comprised the school’s final cohort in the program were on target to graduate in December 2021. The temporary collaboration between the two institutions was so successful that a permanent partnership was a natural progression.

“Our No. 1 goal in the beginning was to get those students back in class,” Everette explains. “As the conversations between us continued, we started going down a different path, one that would move us into a joint venture.”

When Central Piedmont stopped enrolling students in its HIT program in 2020, officials compiled a waiting list in case the school reversed its decision. With the agreement in place, Edgecombe Community College already has added 14 new students to its HIT program from its sister school in Charlotte.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for these students because there are job opportunities in that geographical location,” Everette says. “We see the career outlook exploding in this field.”