Questions

  • What is Project Unify?

    • The Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health have a long, rich history of working together to care for eastern NC. We’re seizing the opportunity to shape our own future – and the future of health care in our region – rather than being subject to decisions made by others outside our organizations who may not share our joint vision. Vidant Health and the Brody School of Medicine are pursuing further integration of our patient care and wellness, clinical education and clinical research activities.

      Fueled in part by the Affordable Care Act, our nation’s health care system is shifting away from a system that reimburses individual providers for specific services rendered. Instead, reimbursement is increasingly based on providers keeping populations of patients healthy. That’s why integration of large health care providers is a national trend.

      Collapse
  • What does integration mean? Who will be affected?

    • As we have jointly evaluated the organizational structures and models that will best serve that vision, we have narrowed our focus to an integration of ECU Physicians and Vidant Medical Group.

      Collapse
  • If I move to the entity, will I be a state employee?

    • Under the proposed model of creating an associated entity, a number of ECU Physicians and Vidant Medical Group employees – both physicians and staff – may experience a change in employer.

      Collapse
  • What will happen to my benefits?

    • We respect that benefits are incredibly important to our employees, and each individual situation will be different. ECU and Vidant Health leaders are committed to doing what is right for our employees – especially those approaching retirement. Subcommittees made up of members from both the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health are making progress working through various issues like compensation and benefits for employees, the legal and financial structure of the new organization, information technology systems, operations and government affairs. There will be more updates in the coming weeks about the specific model for integration and ways you can engage in the decisions like this one that will need to be made.

      Collapse
  • If employees are vested in retirement programs and they move to another employer, will they lose their vested retirement?

    • All vested retirement earnings and rights accumulated at the time of a change in employer will remain secure until such time as you need them for retirement.

      Collapse
  • What is VECU?

    • The first step to move forward with the integration is the filing articles of incorporation. VECU Medical Group, Inc., was registered with the N.C. Secretary of State’s office. This filing name is a placeholder and not indicative of future branding.

      Collapse
  • Is this preparation for an acquisition? A merger?

    • It is not an acquisition or a merger. It’s the creation of a new, shared entity that will be jointly governed by ECU and Vidant Health.

      This new, not-for-profit company was created with specific state laws and a policy in mind that requires it operate for the benefit of East Carolina University. These companies are known as associated entities. As with all new companies, the articles filed with the N.C. Secretary of State require certain basic organizational structures be identified for doing business – including the way the governing board will be comprised.

      In the case of this new entity, both ECU and Vidant Health have appointed board members. For legal and business reasons – including that ECU cannot fund any losses of an associated entity – Vidant Health CEO Dr. Mike Waldrum has appointed six board members and ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton has appointed five. Once the board convenes and selects officers, the associated entity agreement can be executed between the new company and ECU. The new company will also file to get a tax identification number, which allows it to interact with IRS and the federal government. But again, as an associated entity, the company must operate for the benefit of East Carolina University.

      Although neither the Vidant Health Board of Directors nor the ECU Board of Trustees have made any final decisions, both boards have encouraged us to move forward quickly. The Enterprise Alignment Steering Team (EAST) – composed of leaders from both organizations – and various oversight committees continue to work through the myriad of questions and decisions that must be made before any operational model can be formalized. Those include work groups on human resources and benefits, IT, enterprise quality and financial operations, among others.

      Collapse
  • Is this about saving money? Cutting salaries, benefits, jobs?

    • This process is not intended to cut jobs or salaries. We anticipate that we will be able to reduce the cost of delivering care once we’re able to combine our resources, eliminate duplication of efforts, and leverage our collective bargaining power. These things will result in higher quality and more affordable care for our patients.

      Collapse
  • Don’t Vidant Health and the Brody School of Medicine already have missions and visions?

    • Yes. The missions and vision for both organizations support our new joint vision - to be the national model for rural health and wellness by creating a premier, trusted academic health care delivery system for the benefit of the people of eastern North Carolina. Throughout our successful long-standing partnership, we have always shared goals to improve access and affordability in health care and to serve eastern North Carolina’s citizens. We will become more deliberate about saying this and acting in ways that demonstrate it.

      Collapse
  • How is further alignment better for the people in eastern North Carolina? How will it affect patients?

    • The health care landscape is rapidly changing; health care providers must change with it to remain successful. Combining our clinical resources and information will allow us to operate more efficiently, to improve patient access and affordability, and to increase the quality of care we provide for all of our patients, regardless of where they live. It will make the delivery of care more seamless and consistent across eastern North Carolina. Further integration will also create new opportunities to train the region’s future workforce of health care professionals.

      Collapse
  • Will the Brody School of Medicine become private?

    • No. The Brody School of Medicine will remain part of East Carolina University.

      Collapse
  • Will Vidant Health become public?

    • No. Vidant Health will remain private, not-for-profit. Remaining as a private not-for-profit is important and allows for the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant to enhance its public private partnership so the combined enterprise can meet the needs of our communities in a rapidly changing healthcare landscape.

      Collapse
  • Is this happening in other places? Are we basing our alignment on any particular model?

    • This is definitely a national trend. There are many other medical schools that have aligned or integrated services with regional health care providers in recent years, but we hesitate to name other specific examples because every situation is unique. That’s why we’ve assembled workgroups with equal representation from both our organizations and tasked them with determining what type of structure will ultimately best serve our patients, our learners and our region.

      Collapse
  • Why now? What’s the urgency? Is this a result of the Affordable Care Act?

    • Fueled in part by the Affordable Care Act, our nation’s health care system is shifting away from a system that reimburses individual providers for specific services rendered. Instead, reimbursement is increasingly based on providers keeping populations of patients healthy. That’s why integration of large health care providers is a national trend. We’re seizing the opportunity to shape our own future – and the future of health care in our region – rather than being subject to decisions made by others outside our organizations who may not share our joint vision.

      Collapse
  • How long will this process take? When can we expect changes to how either organization does business?

    • It may be a multi-year process, but we’re well on our way. The work to develop the framework, structures, processes and timelines to integrate ECU Physicians and Vidant Medical Group will take months of hard, intense work. It will result in the development of a “master agreement” that will spell out the terms and conditions for the integration of ECU Physicians with the Vidant Medical Group into the new entity. Patients are unlikely to notice any differences in the near future, and when they experience change it will be for the better.

      Collapse
  • How much money changes hands between the two organizations already?

    • Funds flow between the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health in both directions for various services. Currently, there’s about a $33-million net inflow from Vidant to Brody, mostly for contractual services.

      Collapse
  • Is this why Dr. Cunningham is stepping down as dean of Brody?

    • No. The developments are coincidental, and Dr. Cunningham is fully supportive of and helping to lead the clinical integration of ECU Physicians and Vidant Medical Group. He plans to remain on faculty, so his leadership experience will no doubt inform our progress toward realizing our joint vision.

      Collapse
  • How does this affect the search for a new dean for the Brody School of Medicine?

    • We expect that candidates will share in our vision to become the national model for rural health and wellness by creating a premier, trusted academic health care delivery system for the benefit of the people of eastern North Carolina. This is essential for ECU to continue delivering on its own commitments to student success, public service and regional transformation; and for Brody to meet its charge to train primary care doctors for our state, to increase access to medical education for underrepresented populations, and to improve the health status of eastern North Carolina’s citizens.

      Collapse
  • Is this why Dr. Waldrum came to Vidant Health?

    • No. He came to Vidant Health to help chart the future and build on the strong foundation that is Vidant and the historical relationship between Vidant and the Brody School of Medicine. After much listening, learning, discussion and evaluation, Dr. Waldrum and the ECU leadership both parties agree that this is the best course to assure that we are successful and meet the needs of eastern N.C.

      Collapse

Submit a question