ECU Health announces closure of Aurora clinic, four others after $46 million loss last year

Published 4:21 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Today, ECU Health announced the closure of five clinic locations in eastern North Carolina including a family medicine clinic in Aurora. Staff members at the family medicine clinic in Aurora will relocate to other ECU family medicine clinics in Chocowinity or ECU Health Physicians East clinics.

According to the rural health system, it ended the 2022 fiscal year losing $46 million “primarily driven by financial pressures including a disproportionate number of uninsured or underinsured patients as well as labor costs for travel staff.”

“ECU Health has given careful consideration to the below initial operational adjustments in order to minimize impact to patients and team members. These decisions were made following a detailed review of patient census, nearby availability of similar services and staffing realities,” a press release from the health system explains. “Importantly, the health system will work closely with patients to transition care to nearby locations. Dedicated resources are available to support team members impacted by the clinic closures and help them relocate to nearby locations. Dedicated resources are also available to support the 22 team members impacted by the ECU Health North Inpatient Behavioral Health decision and help them identify roles within the health system for which they are interested and qualified,”

“These adjustments, combined with other cost-saving initiatives, are necessary to respond to the current state of health care across the nation and here in North Carolina. ECU Health continues to be vocal in its advocacy for funding programs such as Medicaid Expansion and the Healthcare Access and Stabilization Program (HASP) as well as other state and federal resources that are part of the solution to stabilize health care in rural communities. While ECU Health is cautiously optimistic one or both of these programs may come to fruition later this year, the health system must continue to evolve and optimize operations to ensure it is able to meet its mission now and into the future. This includes making difficult, yet necessary, operational decisions.

The other clinics closing are: ECU Health Women’s Care in Williamston (positions relocating to Washington or ECU Health Physicians clinics); ECU Health Family Medicine in Jacksonville (positions relocating to ECU Health Multispecialty Clinic – Richlands, and cardiology positions relocating to ECU Health Duplin Hospital); Wilson Immediate Care (immediate care services in Wilson will cease, and positions will transition to ECU Healthplex – Wilson. Same-day walk-ins for established patients will remain) and ECU Health Family Medicine in Snow Hill (positions relocating to ECU Health Multispecialty Clinic – Kinston or nearby ECU Health Physicians clinic locations).

The press release goes on to share ECU Health North will discontinue operation of its inpatient behavioral health unit effective Feb. 25. The licensed beds will transition to a new behavioral health hospital in Greenville which will open in 2025.

“Importantly, patients in the community will continue to have access to inpatient behavioral health care at ECU Health Medical Center, ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan Hospital and other non-ECU Health locations. ECU Health North will work closely with patients and referrers as a result of this transition. ECU Health North will continue to evaluate patients in the emergency department for placement or in need of inpatient behavioral health care,”

“These decisions are difficult, yet necessary to ensure ECU Health’s ongoing ability to provide excellent care and service to eastern North Carolina. The health system continues to evaluate opportunities to be more efficient at delivering health care throughout the East while also continuing to advocate for support from elected officials in Raleigh and Washington, D.C.”