Vidant Health trims nearly 200 jobs

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2020

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GREENVILLE – Local jobs are included in a workforce reduction announced Monday by Vidant Health.

The company, which serves 29 counties in eastern North Carolina, is laying off 191 employees. That announcement came on the heels of Vidant Health reporting an $18 million budget shortfall during the first quarter of its current fiscal year.

In an email sent to Vidant employees, company president Dr. Michael Waldrum said the first steps to eliminate the shortfall was to reduce costs, implementing operational efficiencies, and discontinuing recruitment and hiring for certain non-patient care positions.

He also announced the implementation of a workforce reduction of nearly 200 employees. That reduction impacts 82 positions at Vidant Health’s corporate office, 75 at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, 11 from the Vidant Medical Group, seven at Vidant Beaufort Hospital in Washington, four each at Vidant-Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie and Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro, three at Vidant North Hospital in Roanoke Rapids, two each at Vidant Chowan Hospital in Edenton and Vidant Duplin Hospital in Kenansville, and one at The Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head.

No jobs were lost at Vidant Bertie Hospital in Windsor.

Waldrum said the employees impacted by the lay-off will each be given a severance package.

In an on-air interview Tuesday morning, Waldrum told Henry Hinton of WTIB-FM in Greenville that Monday, “wasn’t a good day.”

“It was a hard day for eastern ‘Carolina and for rural healthcare,” Waldrum told Hinton in referencing the reduction in staff. “There are a lot of converging factors that has led to a very difficult time for us at Vidant Health.”

Last month, Waldrum said that despite “full beds (at Vidant hospitals) and patient volumes that are up, we an $18 million budget shortfall during the first quarter of FY20.”

That prompted Hinton to inquire how is Vidant Health paid for providing the medical services delivered throughout its system of rural hospitals.

“It’s a complicated story,” Waldrum answered. “It’s a demographic issue. We live in a rural area that is a difficult market for healthcare. The demographic is aging…they need more care. Then we have a younger group that is uninsured. That leads to a difficult business climate. We pay 210 million dollars a year to cover the cost for those without insurance.”

The issue of Medicaid expansion came up, one that proponents say will prove beneficial to rural hospitals. The legislative majority in the North Carolina General Assembly has opted not to expand Medicaid.

Waldrum admitted he favored that expansion, but told Hinton, “I’m not pointing a finger of blame at either side [of this issue].”

“Medicaid expansion is not a new story,” Waldrum noted. “Here within our own area we’ve seen the hospital in Plymouth struggle last year to stay open and the hospital in Williamston have to close its OB unit.

“[Medicaid expansion] is a political issue, but politics are not solving the problem,” he continued. “All we can do is what we’ve always done as we are federally mandated, and morally obligated, to take care of those who need medical care.”

Hinton asked if Vidant Health can bounce back.

“We have a history of overcoming adversity. I’m confident that we’ll be okay. A lot of threats remain….state health plan issues, Medicaid expansion….but right now we’re concentrating on helping 191 team members while moving forward with our mission to serve the healthcare needs of 29 counties in eastern ‘Carolina,” Waldrum concluded.

Vidant Health remains as eastern North Carolina’s largest employer with a workforce of 14,000 at nine hospitals and over 100 medical practices as well as its corporate office.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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