ECU Health rebranding
After a 50-year evolution, Vidant Health and East Carolina University (ECU) announced on June 23 that Vidant and ECU’s Brody School of Medicine (BSOM/Brody) would align to become a clinically integrated, academic health care organization. This integration will allow the two organizations to provide efficient, effective and high-quality care to eastern North Carolina residents, become the national model for academic rural health care and develop a shared brand.
As a first step toward this integration, Dr. Michael Waldrum was appointed Dean of the BSOM, effective July 1, while continuing to serve as Vidant’s chief executive officer.
The next step of this process is signing a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) that allows the two organizations to work together to formalize the clinical integration, through unified operational processes and strategic goals while remaining legally separate entities. Employees of ECU and Vidant Health will remain employees of their respective organizations. More information is available on the Clinical Integration MyVidant page.
Why is it important to integrate Vidant and the BSOM?
Vidant and BSOM are clinically integrating in order to:
- Improve the value of and the access to quality care and provide patients with a more streamlined health care experience.
- More efficiently use clinical staff across the combined operations, regardless of which organization employs them.
- Help to facilitate new strategies and interventions for the most prevalent health needs of eastern North Carolina.
- Create operational efficiencies reducing costs.
- Establish a shared leadership and governance structure for ECU Health.
What is the purpose of having Dr. Waldrum as the leader of both Vidant and BSOM?
With a single leader in both organizations, Dr. Waldrum has the ability and decision-making authority to implement unified operational and clinical decisions that lead to better outcomes for patients and communities served in eastern North Carolina. This integration helps both organizations meet the combined vision of becoming a national model for rural health care.
What does the JOA mean for the overall clinical integration process?
The JOA provides the legal framework that allows the two organizations to move forward with formalizing the clinical integration, through unified operational processes and strategic goals while remaining legally separate entities. The JOA also provides guiding principles, formal structures and grants certain authorities to achieve clinical integration between Vidant and BSOM.
Each of the JOA components (ECU, BSOM, Vidant Health, Vidant Medical Center, etc.) will maintain their corporate/legal existence. The JOA does not involve the transfer, sale or acquisition of Vidant or ECU assets.
The purpose of the JOA is to align clinical patient care efforts; further develop existing clinical integration for the benefit of patients; expand and develop the long-standing academic affiliation; and utilize revenues to sustain the patient care, education and research activities of all components of the JOA.
What is the difference between the JOA and the announcement in June 2021?
In June 2021, ECU Chancellor Rogers appointed Dr. Waldrum as dean of the BSOM, effective July 1. This announcement also included Vidant Health and ECU’s intention to move forward with a defined framework to achieve greater operational integration to complement its current clinical integration.
The signed JOA provides the legal framework and governance structure for the future ECU Health. The JOA explains how the organizations will operate as a unified system and Dr. Waldrum – as CEO/Dean – will make operational decisions to achieve integration.
Who approved the JOA?
The JOA between Vidant and ECU was approved by the ECU Board of Trustees on Nov. 12. This was the first step in the approval process. The Pitt County Board of Commissioners, Vidant Medical Center Board of Trustees, Vidant Health Board of Directors and the UNC Board of Governors will also review the JOA in the near future.
What has taken place since the announcement in June 2021?
Since the announcement of Dr. Waldrum’s new role as Dean of BSOM in June, an executive committee was formed with leaders from both organizations. The committee has been advising on the JOA components. They will continue to be responsible for overseeing and providing strategic guidance for the full clinical integration and creation of the future ECU Health. The committee has sub-committees reporting to it, concentrating on distinct areas such as clinical operations, finance, legal, marketing and communications.
What is the vision and future for ECU Health?
The work to fully integrate Vidant and BSOM clinical operations has been more than 40 years in the making. This work will continue in the weeks, months and years ahead. Leaders from both organizations will work with faculty, staff, patients and other stakeholders to elevate these two community-focused organizations under one brand – ECU Health – in a way that combines the strengths of both organizations with the goal of providing the most effective, high-quality and efficient care for patients and our communities throughout the region.
Is Vidant’s name changing?
Once approved, the JOA becomes effective Jan. 1, 2022. Soon after, Vidant will change its name to ECU Health and rebrand itself throughout 2022. ECU Physicians and Vidant Medical Group will also be changing their names to align under the ECU Health brand.
The CEO and Dean roles are important roles for each organization. How will both organizations ensure that one person can do both roles effectively? What resources will be available to leadership to ensure we are successful in this unique situation?
Dr. Waldrum has a team at Vidant and at Brody to help manage the responsibilities. He reports to both the chancellor for the medical school’s interests and the Vidant Health Board of Directors for Vidant’s interests. As executive dean, Dr. Jason Higginson is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the BSOM. Similarly, Brian Floyd remains responsible for Vidant hospitals and Dan Drake will remain responsible for Vidant Medical Group (VMG) clinics. Once the JOA becomes effective, there will be a new Joint Operating Committee (JOC) with VH and ECU leaders that will provide ongoing advice, guidance and oversight to Dr. Waldrum in the management of ECU Health.
What is Dr. Waldrum’s role at Brody?
Dr. Waldrum represents the BSOM in internal and external matters including, but not limited to, chair of the Brody Council, board and committee meetings, medical school operation decisions, ceremonies, fundraising and academic conferences. At Brody, he reports to the university’s Chancellor. Through this shared leadership structure, Dr. Waldrum remains CEO of the health system.
Is ECU planning to build a new medical school?
ECU and Vidant are cautiously optimistic the NC General Assembly will include funding in its final state budget for the construction of a new medical education and research building on ECU’s Health Sciences Campus.
VH team members
Will Vidant team members become ECU state employees? Or, will ECU employees become Vidant team members?
No, there will be no change in employment status.
Will benefits change?
No, Vidant team member benefits will remain the same.
At BSOM, benefits will also remain the same, with the exception of small changes already planned and unrelated to the JOA starting Jan. 1, 2022.
Will roles or departments be consolidated between the organizations?
At this time, no decisions have been made to combine departments or areas. In the coming months, Dr. Waldrum will work with the JOC to determine how workflows will be organized going forward. This includes improving efficiencies and avoiding duplication across the organizations, which may include combining select non-clinical support services/departments.
Will Vidant team members be able to take on dual roles (working for ECU and Vidant)?
At the effective date of the approved JOA (Jan. 1, 2022), there are no changes to the current employment structure. We will communicate if decisions are made to offer a dual employment model to other positions in the organization.
Vidant Medical Group / ECU Physicians
Will VMG and ECU Physicians be combined?
The provider groups will remain two distinct organizations, operating under the ECU Health brand with shared leadership and shared services to support operations. This integration will be focused on the development and adoption of a high performing, clinically integrated set of multi-specialty services across sites of care that is physician led, professionally-managed and patient centric.
How will this be structured?
ECU Physicians and VMG will be led by shared leadership. VMG and ECU Physicians will share the same workflow processes and approach to work, incorporating consistent clinical evidence-based protocols and unified clinical expectations.
Who can I reach out to for additional questions?
Vidant team members, physicians and credentialed providers can send questions about the clinical integration to ClinicalIntegration@VidantHealth.com. BSOM or ECUP physicians, faculty and staff can go to https://medicine.ecu.edu/feedback/ to submit questions.