ECU/Brody leaders respond

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, June 12, 2019


RCNH News Intern

GREENVILLE – In a Monday press release, leaders of East Carolina University and the Brody School of Medicine issued their stance in the Vidant dispute.

In this statement they informed the ECU community that they were not involved with Vidant and Pitt County’s decision to make changes to the current system.

“The plain fact is that Vidant Health and Pitt County acted behind closed doors to change how appointments are made to the Vidant Medical Center (VMC) Board,” the statement said. “No one at ECU/Brody was consulted or agreed to this change.”

The statement – jointly issued by Dan Gerlach, ECU’s Interim Chancellor, and Mark Stacy, the Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the Brody School of Medicine – comes on the heels of a settlement agreement issued last week by Vidant Medical Center officials and Pitt County leaders.

The settlement agreement proposes that the State budget must include $28 million in funding for a new building for the Brody School of Medicine, and it calls for the removal of the $35 million penalty for VMC in the state budget.

The budget cut is believed to be the Senate’s response to the Pitt County Board of Commissioners’ decision to eliminate the UNC Board of Governors’ VMC board appointing power.

Additionally, the proposed settlement would call for restructuring of the VMC board. The new agreement would allow Pitt County to continue to appoint 11 members, while reducing the UNC BOG’s power to appoint only four members.

The rest of the board would comprise of two members appointed by the VMC Board and two ECU physicians appointed by a special committee to be chaired by the Dean of the Brody School of Medicine, who will also serve as a member on the board.

After maintaining silence and allowing legal counsel to mediate, the leaders of ECU and Brody have decided to come forward to state their views.

In their statement, Gerlach and Stacy clearly made the distinction that Vidant and Brody are not the same entities.

”Vidant is an independent corporation with its own goals and motives,” the statement said. “Its legal agreement with ECU and the University of North Carolina System has given Vidant access to benefits such as supplemental Medicaid payments—crucial payments Vidant has now put at risk through this unilateral action.”

It was also clarified that UNC-Chapel Hill nor UNC Health Care are part of the dispute. ECU is one of the constituent institutions of the UNC System, which is why the UNC Board of Governors are involved.

Along with clarity surrounding the facts, the statement made it clear that they are not in favor of Vidant’s proposed changes.

“This is a fight that ECU did not know about, start, invite or need,” they said. “Their action broke an agreement that has been in place, in some form, for decades.”

Brody and ECU wants to continue receiving Medicaid payments, and they feel the fastest way to maintain order is for Vidant and Pitt County to reverse their changes to the Board structure.

The joint statement said they have been working with all parties involved through legal counsel in order to complete the process as soon as possible. In addition to this, ECU would like to address issues with their partners to maintain the long-term service provided by the Brody School to the State and region.

Although ECU and Brody have preferred silence while working to resolve the matter, the decision to state their views is motivated by self-advocacy.

“ … There’s been a lot of discussion from other parties about what is good for ECU,” the statement said. “We assure you that we are plenty capable of speaking for ourselves and our interests, and we will do so vigorously.”

The UNC system also stands in favor of Vidant honoring the existing agreement. UNC and ECU have sued the hospital, and the dispute is currently in mediation.