Local healthcare reborn

Published 10:23 am Thursday, January 26, 2012

'Mutt' Askew (left) of Plant Operations is joined by Jonathon Unger (face hidden), coordinator of Member Services for Vidant Wellness Center, unveils the new sign in front of Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie. Other staff and 'brand ambassadors' looking on included Sharon Roope, assistant to vice president, Yvonne Booker, nursing supervisor, and Andrea Blackburn, staff nurse, endoscopy. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Two, well established entities in the local healthcare industry gained a new identity on Wednesday morning.

As part of the change from University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina to Vidant Health, both Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie and Bertie Memorial Hospital in Windsor hosted a ceremony to unveil their respective new brand.

Roanoke-Chowan Hospital, which first opened its doors in 1948, is now Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital. Bertie Memorial – initially opened in 1952 at another location in Windsor before moving to its current site in 2001 – now has a new name, Vidant Bertie Hospital.

Additionally, the Viquest Center in Ahoskie will become Vidant Wellness Center.

At RCH, the hospital’s ‘Brand’ Ambassadors were honored with the task of unveiling the Vidant signage.

“Our system has grown to one that now serves 29 counties in eastern North Carolina,” said Vidant RCH President Sue Lassiter as she spoke to a crowd gathered on the northeast corner of the hospital property where the sign unveiling ceremony was conducted.

“We wanted a name that all those communities can recognize, one that ties all of us under one name and brands all the wonderful services we provide together,” Lassiter continued. “People will know that when they go to a Vidant health entity they will be at a place where they will receive a high level of quality healthcare and an exceptional healthcare experience as a patient.

“We here in the Roanoke-Chowan area are grateful to be part of a successful health system,” Lassiter continued. “We’re glad that all the people of eastern North Carolina can recognize Vidant Health as a place for safe and quality care.”

Over in Windsor, it was the dawning of a new day for Bertie County healthcare Wednesday morning as a crowd gathered to witness the beginning of Vidant Bertie Hospital (VBH).

A large crowd of county leaders, hospital officials and others in Bertie County joined to celebrate the change. Included among those in attendance were Bertie County Commissioners L.C. Hoggard III and Charles Smith and Economic Development Director Steve Biggs along with Windsor Commissioner Joe Alexander and Town Administrator Allen Castelloe.

Everyone in the audience was welcomed to the ceremony by Vidant Bertie Hospital President Jeff Sackrison.

“We are happy to be here with all of you today to celebrate the new name of our health system and hospital,” Sackrison said. “Today we officially become Vidant Bertie Hospital, part of Vidant Health.”

Sackrison said healthcare is changing throughout the United States.

“Whatever changes may come, Vidant Bertie Hospital promises to deliver best in region access, exceptional experiences and optimal outcomes to support healthier communities,” he said. “We know this is what our patients expect from us and we intend to deliver on that promise.

“Our new name Vidant is universally associated with life,” he continued. “Life is what we’re all about at Vidant Bertie Hospital. Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for the people and communities we serve, touch and support. Our new name conveys that mission in a fresh and unique way.”

Following the remarks by the president of the hospital, the Rev. Carl Coston  – who serves as chaplain at the hospital – provided an invocation.

Kareen Binion-Brown, who serves as chair of the hospital’s Director’s Council, touted the level of care that will continue at the Windsor-based healthcare facility.

“Healthcare is changing around us every day,” she said. “An aging population and healthcare reform will shape this industry for years to come. Thankfully the people of Bertie County and surrounding areas can depend on Vidant Health to provide the best possible care close to home.”

Dr. Phillip Harris, Vice Chief of Staff of Vidant Bertie Hospital, said he was pleased to be associated with VBH and Vidant Health.

“Vidant Bertie Hospital and Vidant Health are totally dedicated to eastern North Carolina,” he said.

He said he appreciated the leaders of Bertie County looking into the future and joining forces with what is now Vidant Health to make the hospital a better place. He also talked about the beautiful facility and how clean and nice the hospital stays.

Following the remarks, the gathered audience moved outside for the official unveiling of the sign that marked the change to Vidant Bertie Hospital.

In addition to events held in Ahoskie and Windsor, six other hospitals in eastern ‘Carolina marked the “birthday” of Vidant Health by unveiling new signs. They included Vidant Beaufort Hospital (Washington), Vidant Duplin Hospital (Kenansville), Vidant Edgecombe Hospital (formerly Heritage Hospital in Tarboro) and Vidant Pungo Hospital (Belhaven). Additionally, a ceremony was held in Greenville where the organization’s flagship facility, Pitt County Memorial Hospital, became Vidant Medical Center.

Two other properties – the Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head and Albemarle Health in Elizabeth City – will continue to operate under their existing names.

In late 2011, University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina announced plans to launch a new brand for the health system.

“The new brand identity pulls together all the important services and facilities that make up our organization that is uniquely ours. It is legally protectable and reflects who we are,” said Dave McRae, chief executive officer of Vidant Health.

Foreground from left, Kareen Binion-Brown (left), chairperson of the Director’s Council, Dr. Phillip Harris, Vice Chief of Staff, and President Jeff Sackrison were among those that unveiled the new sign at Vidant Bertie Hospital on Wednesday morning. Staff Photo by Thadd White

During the last decade, the system has grown from one hospital to a network of interconnected physician practices, more than 11,000 employees, 10 hospitals, home health and hospice programs and wellness facilities.

“As our health system continued to grow we found that many of our patients didn’t realize all that we offered,” said McRae. “By uniting all of our hospitals, programs and services under one brand we will improve access to quality healthcare in the region by enhancing the patient’s experience and improving health outcomes.”

All Vidant Health entities are active partners in their communities’ well-being, providing access to quality health services for everyone through a complete system of care. Vidant Health highlights the passion for doing good in communities, not just doing business. As one of the largest employers in eastern North Carolina, Vidant Health supports communities economically as well as medically.

The name Vidant Health brings to mind life, vibrancy and vitality and is closely tied to the system’s mission “to enhance the quality of life for the communities we serve, touch and support.”

“For years, the name University Health Systems has stood for the highest level of care in eastern North Carolina. As we continue to evolve and strengthen our integrated system, the time has come to evolve our name as well,” said David Womack, chairman of the board of directors.

“Our new name does not change who we are or our vision to help create a healthier eastern North Carolina,” McRae said. “Our new name expresses our mission and resolve to make this vision a reality. We will use our system’s resources and expertise to do good for the people of North Carolina. Above all, we are committed to improving the health of the people of our communities.”

In late 2011, University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina had announced plans to shorten its name to UHS. In September, University Health Systems was informed by Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services that it holds a trademark registration for the letters “UHS.” As a result, University Health Systems decided to undertake a change of direction with a complete rebranding program, culminating with the selection of the Vidant Health.