Questions

  • Why do East Carolina University (ECU) and Vidant Health need to integrate their clinical practices?

    • ECU and Vidant believe that integrating clinical practices will provide eastern North Carolina with an even better academic physician education program, which will address the current and future health care needs of the region and beyond. It will enhance ECU’s ability to attract and retain faculty, obtain research funding and conduct translational research to improve overall health for eastern North Carolinians, particularly the underserved, at lower cost. The agreement will bring patients access to an integrated network of doctors, newest therapies, clinical trials and medical research, while working to ensure the highest level of care at the most affordable price. 

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  • What is the Clinical Integration Agreement?

    • It is a legal agreement between East Carolina University and Vidant Health that meets parameters set forth by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, and outlines, in some detail, how and when the physician practice of The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, ECU Physicians and the physician practice of Vidant Health, Vidant Medical Group will join into one clinical practice within a newly formed corporation, VECU.

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  • What is VECU?

    • VECU is a new non-profit corporation that is an “Associated Entity” to East Carolina University. It will operate the newly combined medical practices of ECU Physicians and Vidant Medical Group. By law, VECU as an Associated Entity must conduct its business to further the mission of Brody School of Medicine. It is anticipated that the operating name of the corporation will be changed to more clearly reflect the mission and identity of the new, combined enterprise.  Collapse
  • How will VECU operate?

    • VECU is governed by an eleven (11) member board of voting directors.  Six (6) members are either Vidant Health officers or appointed by Vidant Health and five (5) members are either ECU officers or appointed by ECU. The chair of the board of directors is the dean of the Brody School of Medicine. In addition to the eleven (11) voting members of the board, the ECU Chancellor will serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the board. Collapse
  • Why does Vidant Health appoint more members than ECU?

    • By law, whomever has the financial responsibility for a company must have a majority of the appointments to the governing board of the organization. For that reason, Vidant Health has one more appointment to the board of directors than does ECU. Collapse
  • Is VECU the permanent name of the new company?

    • VECU is the legal name under which the company was incorporated.  However, as part of the integration agreement, the parties have stipulated that as branding is developed for the new company, including the name under which it will do business, the term “East Carolina University,” “East Carolina” or “ECU” will be featured in the name and logo of the corporation and in all branding of the Corporation. Collapse
  • How does this integration benefit ECU?

    • The ability of ECU and Brody School of Medicine to carry out the three-part mission of the medical school will be greatly enhanced. The integration will assure that we will be able to continue and improve our ability to train the next generation of physicians and other health professionals by increasing the number of locations available for training medical students and reducing the risk of financial uncertainty from clinical operations in connection with rapid change in the health care industry; we will be able to improve and expand our research and clinical trials; and we will deliver better health care to the people of eastern North Carolina through a more closely coordinated system of care.  The financial arrangements agreed to between ECU and Vidant Health will assure this by establishing consistent and reliable sources of revenue to accomplish these things. Collapse
  • How does this integration benefit Vidant?

    • This integration is a critical step in our vision to be the national model for rural health and wellness. Together, we will be able to coordinate the highest level of care for our patients —who happen to be our family, friends and neighbors. 

      As we integrate, we will begin to recognize improved care delivery and utilization from our shared resources and expertise, allowing us to continuously improve health care for the people of eastern North Carolina.

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  • What are the financial arrangements or “flow of funds” between ECU and Vidant Health?

    • After the closing date, ECU, Vidant Health and the new Corporation will purchase professional services, academic services, and other services from each other to the extent needed. Vidant Health will also pay ECU a mission support payment comprised of three parts: (a) a one-time Upfront Mission Payment of $35 million; (b) a Fixed Mission Payment of $14.25 million annually, to be paid in equal monthly installments; and (c) potentially a Margin Share Payment, which will be determined annually, if Vidant Health meets certain financial targets.  Collapse
  • How and when will this change occur?

    • No change will occur immediately. The agreement basically outlines the timeline and framework for how the new company will operate and how ECU Physicians and Vidant Medical Group will be integrated.  Effectively, ECU Physicians and VMG will transfer all their existing  assets into the new corporation. Because the Integration Agreement is a framework, a great deal of work must yet be done to determine the details of exactly how and when each aspect of the assets, human resources and operations of ECU Physicians and VMG begin operations under the auspices of the new company. Some of that work has already begun.

      The Integration Agreement stipulates that the “closing” of the agreement (the date on which operations of ECU’s and Vidant Health’s clinical practices will be entirely operated by the new company and will cease as independent clinical practices) will occur no sooner than January 1, 2018 and no later than December 31, 2018. There will be very small exceptions to this if prior obligations to a third party exist, for example the tele-psychiatry program for the State of North Carolina will continue to operate separately from the integrated Corporation.   

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  • What is the timeline for completion of the integration?

    • The next phase of work will begin immediately. The new organization is expected to begin operations no later than Dec. 31, 2018. Collapse
  • Who will be affected by this change?

    • Patients: When integration occurs, patients will receive notice explaining the change and how it will affect them. We expect there will be many benefits for patients over time.  Immediately, patients will likely experience no change.

      Employees: All current VMG employees, clinical providers and staff, will be transitioned to the new Corporation on the Closing Date.

      Current ECU employees will be transitioned to the new Corporation with regard to their clinical activities in accordance with the framework in the Integration Agreement. While much work must yet be completed to provide individual employees with the options and timing pertaining to their specific situation, we do know certain things about how transitions will occur.

      No change in employment status will occur (due to the integration agreement) before January 1, 2018. Very likely, given the amount of information and analysis that must be completed for all employees before individual circumstances and options can be determined, any change in employment status will not occur for any individual until quite some time after January 1, 2018.       Collapse
  • How does this integration affect Vidant employees?

    • We don’t anticipate any impact on your day-to-day duties as Vidant employees. You should remain focused on providing the best care for our patients. Collapse
  • What do we know about the transition of ECU employees?

    • As of the Closing Date (between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018) the new Corporation will offer all VMG and ECUP clinical employees positions with the new corporation that are substantially equivalent to their existing clinical roles and responsibilities. 

      Many ECUP employees will have the option to remain employed by East Carolina University for a period until their transition date and have their clinical services provided to the new corporation under a professional services agreement between ECU and the new corporation. There will not be an option for clinical employees to continue to provide their services through ECUP or VMG.

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  • What employment options will I have?

    • Because individual circumstances vary, your options may be different from your colleagues.  Generally, however, the Integration Agreement outlines the following principles:

      1. Employees who are newly hired on or after November 30, 2017 or the date when the Corporation has sufficient infrastructure in place to hire clinical employees, will be employed by the Corporation.

      2. ECUP clinical support services (CSS) and State Human Resources Act (SHRA) staff in probationary status (as of the dates above) will be offered employment by the Corporation.

      3. ECUP-employed physicians and other ECUP- or BSOM-employed clinicians who hold BSOM faculty titles or appointments (ECUP Faculty) will remain ECU employees for the portion of their time allocated to academic and research activities and will be offered employment by the Corporation for any portion of their time allocated to delivery of clinical services, including GME time. ECUP Faculty will be compensated under a two pay-check model, paid by ECU for their academic and research work and by the Corporation for their clinical work. Any ECUP clinical employees who will not be employed immediately by the Corporation for clinical services may be assigned by ECU, under a professional services agreement, to provide clinical services to the Corporation.

      All ECUP Faculty and ECUP Staff who are beyond their probationary period and who would become eligible for certain retirement milestone benefits within five (5) years of the Closing Date will have the option to remain ECU employees until that milestone is reached.

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  • What are the retirement benefit milestones for which I have an option to remain an ECU employee to reach? 

    • To the extent possible within legal and financial constraints, you will have the option of remaining an ECU employee and have ECU assign you to provide your clinical time through the new Corporation under a professional services agreement, subject to the needs of the Corporation, if at the Closing Date you are within five (5) years of:

      • Achieving five (5) years of membership service (vesting)

      • Achieving ten (10) years of membership service (amount of creditable service required to obtain 1/2 of health care premium costs paid by the state retirement plan upon retirement before Medicare eligibility)

      • Achieve twenty (20) years of membership service (amount of creditable service required to obtain full payment for health care premium costs by the state retirement plan upon retirement before Medicare eligibility)

      • Achieve twenty-five (25) years of membership service (amount of creditable service required to obtain unreduced retirement benefits at age 60)

      Achieve thirty (30) years of membership service (amount of creditable service required to obtain unreduced retirement benefits at any age.

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  • If eligible, what happens if I decide to remain an ECU employee until I reach my next retirement benefit milestone?

    • You will remain an ECU employee with all the benefits and responsibilities of any other ECU employee, subject to applicable policies.  Upon reaching your milestone, you may be offered employment by the new Corporation subject to its employment needs. Collapse
  • If I choose not to accept employment with the new Corporation when the Integration Agreement calls for me to transition, what are my rights?

    • All your rights as a state employee remain fully in force. Because ECUP will no longer be providing clinical services, the position in which you are employed will be eliminated and all your individual Reduction in Force (RIF) rights and benefits will apply.

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  • If I choose to accept employment with the new Corporation, what will that mean?

    • You will become an employee of the new Corporation. You will no longer be a state employee.  The salary and benefits you will earn will be based on market rates, as determined by the new Corporation’s board of directors. Benefits offered to employees of the new Corporation will be the same as benefits offered to Vidant Health employees in the same employment status as you, with credit for service on a month-to-month basis for the time you have worked as a state employee. You may view current Vidant benefits on the website.  Collapse
  • Will I lose all my accrued sick and vacation leave and my creditable retirement service?

    • No. All your accrued vacation leave, including bonus vacation leave you have been awarded, will be paid out to you at the time of separation from ECU, up to a maximum of 240 hours. 

      For ECU employees, your accrued sick leave will remain in the state system for a period of up to five (5) years, for you to reclaim, should you become employed again as a state employee within that time. If you retire from the state of North Carolina immediately or within the five (5) year period after leaving ECU, your accrued sick leave will be credited towards your total state service and calculated in your retirement pay. Your accrued actual creditable service towards retirement (not including sick leave) will remain intact until you retire.

      As you’ll note, Vidant Health benefits are graduated based on years of service employees have provided to Vidant Health. As part of the Integration Agreement, Vidant Health will accept the years of service to the state of North Carolina accrued, determining the rate of benefits you will earn at the new Corporation.  

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  • Why are there references in the Integration Agreement to “see attached” where nothing is attached, or references to schedules that have no information?

    • The execution of the Integration Agreement is the beginning of the integration planning process. A great deal of detailed work must be done to complete the due diligence process and get to the point when Closing and launch of the integrated clinical enterprise can occur. There are references in the Integration Agreement to attachments and schedules that can and will be developed only after more of the due diligence process is complete.    Collapse
  • How does the integration of Vidant Medical Group (VMG) and ECU Physicians benefit patients?

    • This milestone agreement is a critical step in bringing more comprehensive medical care that is accessible, innovative, research-driven, industry leading and above all drives improved outcomes and results for our patients. 

      This agreement enhances our ability to attract and retain high-performing physicians and specialists, bringing more expertise, access to clinical trials and the newest therapies, all in order to provide the best care and patient experience in the rural communities we serve. 

      While our two organizations are already integrated in many ways (graduate medical education, trauma care, cancer care, cardiac care, etc.), this agreement will enhance clinical integration and allow us to innovate the future of health care in eastern North Carolina together.

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  • What immediate changes will this have to patients?

    • There are no immediate changes for you as a patient, and you may continue to see your regular doctor. However, you will gain access to a network of 800 physicians and specialists, as well as clinical trials and medical research. To read about the additional services we will provide, view our current integrations. Collapse
  • Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

    • We understand you may have questions and want to hear from you. Throughout the process, you can submit questions via email and to stay abreast subscribe to the latest updates and information. Otherwise, we will share additional information when there are further developments that affect patients like you. Collapse

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