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Vidant’s plan to integrate with ECU won’t affect local hospital’s business model transition

East Carolina University’s plan to move toward “full clinical integration” with Vidant Health won’t affect Vidant Beaufort Hospital’s upcoming transition to a campus of the health system’s flagship hospital.

ECU announced that integration plan in a news release Thursday, saying that the partnership will lead to the creation of a “distinctive health system brand ­— ECU Health or similar branding — to serve the 1.4 million residents of Eastern North Carolina.”

ECU also announced the appointment of Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of Vidant Health, as the seventh dean of the Brody School of Medicine. Waldrum will continue to serve as CEO of Vidant.

“This is an exciting day for our university and for the people of eastern North Carolina,” ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers said. “By aligning the leadership of the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health, we will be able to more effectively train future physicians, provide enhanced research opportunities, advance technological solutions and better coordinate the delivery of health care to the people of our region.”

ECU also announced the appointment of Dr. Jason Higginson as executive dean of the Brody School of Medicine.

“This is the first step toward a shared goal of increasing collaboration and integrating Vidant Health and the Brody School of Medicine,” the release reads. “The two organizations will work together with academic and clinical leadership to transform together, to build on combined strengths, and to create a regional health care, research and educational enterprise.”

Vidant Beaufort in Washington is one of eight hospitals Vidant owns in addition to its flagship campus in Greenville.

Earlier this year, Vidant informed team members and community leaders that it will transition Vidant Beaufort to a campus of Vidant Medical Center in fall 2021.

“Health care is constantly evolving; whether it’s new technology, care models or government reforms,” Vidant said at that time. “It is important for Vidant Health to evolve and adjust to ensure we remain a high-quality health care resource for eastern North Carolina. … This transition is an intentional and necessary effort to reimagine and reinvest in the health care of Beaufort County. Transitioning Vidant Beaufort to a campus of VMC will result in cost and operational efficiencies, enhanced direct access to specialty services and greater coordinated care due to the close proximity of the hospitals.

“While this transition creates opportunities for hospital-wide alignment, overall, it will not change team members’ day-to-day work.”

Vidant said after the transition takes place, patients will notice a subtle change to Vidant Beaufort’s logo; it will be modified to say “A campus of Vidant Medical Center.”

“However, we do not anticipate any changes to patient billing or out-of-pocket balances as a direct result of this transition,” Vidant said.

In a statement sent to the Daily News on Thursday, Vidant confirmed that the Beaufort County campus’ transition won’t be affected by the clinical integration with ECU.