Taking a swab for coronavirus sample

Greenville, N.C. – With a significant decrease in demand for COVID-19 testing, combined with the extensive availability of other convenient options such as at-home tests, community health departments and physician practices, ECU Health is closing its COVID-19 testing sites effective Friday, July 29. This includes testing sites at 13 ECU Health medical group clinics (formerly Vidant Medical Group) and the drive-thru testing site in Greenville. This decision comes as North Carolina nears the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, which will be lifted mid-August.

From the onset of the pandemic, ECU Health has placed the health, well-being and safety of eastern North Carolina at the forefront of our COVID-19 response. Once COVID-19 testing capabilities were established, ECU Health heavily invested in building a robust, state-of-the-art testing program. Since launching the testing sites across the region, we have been able to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on our region as well as share this valuable data with community members.

Taking a swab for coronavirus sample

ECU Health established the Greenville drive-thru COVID-19 testing site and regional testing sites when other convenient testing options were not available. These testing sites, which have helped mitigate the spread of COVID-19, served our communities for almost two years. Throughout this time, ECU Health resulted more than 800,000 total tests.

Regrettably, closing the testing sites impacts the employment of 141 team members across the region who were specifically hired to support the health system’s COVID-19 response. ECU Health is providing human resources and talent acquisition support to all team members who are interested in applying for open positions for which they are qualified for within the health system. This includes those who are working in part-time, full-time and supplemental roles related to the system’s initial COVID-19 response efforts.

ECU Health will continue to provide COVID-19 testing, if needed and by appointment, for patients during their scheduled visits at ECU Health primary care offices. Testing will also be available as needed in the inpatient setting.

The community should continue to follow the usual protocols when sick, and seek appointments with their primary care providers. Those strictly seeking a COVID-19 test should not visit the Emergency Department and should instead contact their primary care office or seek alternative testing options.

To find a COVID-19 testing location closest to you, please visit NCDHHS’ Community Access Points website at www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov/FindTests.

Covid-19 | Press Releases

Conceptual rendering of new behavioral health hospital

GREENVILLE, N.C. – ECU Health and Acadia Healthcare announced today plans to build a state-of-the-art, 144-bed behavioral health hospital in the medical district of Greenville, N.C., less than a mile from ECU Health Medical Center. This new facility will be a center of excellence, providing North Carolinians with important access to behavioral health services and treatment from specialized clinical teams in a carefully designed environment.

Slated to open in spring 2025, the hospital will be operated through a joint venture between ECU Health and Acadia, the largest standalone provider of behavioral healthcare services across the United States. Together, the organizations will invest approximately $65 million in expanding behavioral health resources in eastern North Carolina.

Conceptual rendering of new behavioral health hospital

The hospital will include 24 inpatient beds specifically for children and adolescents with mental health needs. These beds will be the first of their kind in ECU Health’s 29-county service area and the only child and adolescent beds within 75 miles of Greenville, North Carolina.

“This hospital will be a tremendous resource for our patients and our state, and we’re thrilled to bring a partner and a national leader like Acadia to eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, chief executive officer of ECU Health and dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “Acadia has an established track record of providing high-quality, compassionate care in communities across the country. Together, we will strengthen our level of expertise, implement proven best practices and enhance the quality and number of behavioral health services available to patients throughout the region.”

Prior to the pandemic, nearly one in five North Carolinians were experiencing a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder, according to a report from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use. In the last two years, national data indicates a growing trend of depression and anxiety symptoms. This partnership demonstrates a commitment to talking about mental health disorders, normalizing and treating them with the latest science and medicine in appropriate care settings.

“As a clinician, seeing this type of investment and understanding the significant impact it will have on patients is exciting,” said Dr. Syed A. Saeed, an ECU Health board-certified psychiatrist with more than 40 years of experience. “The needs of behavioral health patients differ from other patients and vary widely even within the same diagnosis. This state-of-the-art hospital will allow us to fully meet our patients’ unique needs in a safe, patient-centered environment and ensure clinicians have the resources and training needed to deliver excellent care.”

The new hospital will also serve as a teaching hospital, training students and residents from the Brody School of Medicine, many of whom will go on to practice in eastern North Carolina and carry forth ECU Health’s mission to improve the health and well-being of the region.

“We are always seeking like-minded partners who share our commitment to expanding access to high-quality behavioral health services and transforming the way mental health patients are seen and cared for,” said Chris Hunter, chief executive officer of Acadia Healthcare. “Establishing a center of excellence in partnership with ECU Health presents a unique opportunity for us to support the development of the next generation of behavioral health care workers and clinicians. We’re excited to begin this important work with such a committed, patient-focused partner.”

Construction is expected to begin in 2023, pending standard state and regulatory approvals and gaining a Certificate of Need. To facilitate the development of the new 144-bed behavioral health hospital, ECU Health will transfer 80 of its current behavioral health beds.

To learn more about the potential partnership between ECU Health and Acadia Healthcare, visit
ENCBehavioralHealth.org.

Find more information in our Press Kit.

Behavioral Health | Community | Featured | Press Releases

Washington, N.C.ECU Health Beaufort Hospital – a campus of ECU Health Medical Center has been designated as a primary stroke center by The Joint Commission and the American Heart/Stroke Association, recognizing the hospital’s preparedness and expertise to care for stroke patients. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the state, resulting in more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. With this designation, all ECU Health hospitals are equipped to provide advanced stroke care in communities across eastern North Carolina.

“Stroke certification from The Joint Commission represents ECU Health Beaufort’s commitment to provide high-quality stroke care to not only patients experiencing stroke symptoms, but to all of our patients,” said Debra Hernandez, president of ECU Health Beaufort. “We are proud of being designated a primary stroke center. The commitment and diligent work of team members across all levels and services made this a reality.”

As a primary stroke center, ECU Health Beaufort can treat and stabilize patients experiencing an acute stroke and care for more complex patients. As part of stroke readiness by all hospitals in the ECU health system, this certification is symbolic of a comprehensive stroke network capable of meeting the needs of all patients across eastern North Carolina.

“Achieving stroke certification for all nine hospitals has been our goal since launching an intentional focus on improving stroke care in eastern North Carolina seven years ago,” said Barry Bunn, chief of medical staff and regional medical director of emergency services, ECU Health. “At the start of this process, ECU Health began a pathway of certifying all of the ECU Health hospitals with some level of stroke certification by the Joint Commission. Stroke certified hospitals were prevalent west of I-95, but there were few certified hospitals in the eastern part of the state. Now, we can proudly say that patients across the region will have access to high-quality stroke care, regardless of where they live.”

Because time is one of the most important factors in treating stroke, it is vitally important to provide stroke care close to home. ECU Health Beaufort’s stroke certification increases proximity to quality care in the Washington area, which reduces the risk of mortality, permanent brain damage and other side effects including memory loss, difficulty speaking and potential paralysis.

During the certification process, ECU Health Beaufort was evaluated on performance measures in stroke care, including education for patients and families on stroke risk factors and recognizing symptoms of stroke. Other performance measures included staff education on stroke protocols and the appropriate prescription of medications to address stroke risk factors such as elevated cholesterol and blood pressure.

The severity and likelihood of having a stroke in North Carolina is significantly higher than the rest of the country as a whole. Eastern North Carolina is at the center of many strokes, often called the buckle of the stroke belt. North Carolina is about 8 percent worse for stroke mortality than the national average, and in eastern North Carolina, that risk is even greater.

“With all hospitals in the ECU Health system now stroke certified, a patient will be offered life-saving care regardless of the patient’s proximity to any of ECU Health’s hospitals and depending upon what additional treatments are needed, can be transported to a location with more extensive services when the patient is stabilized,” said Jay Briley, president of ECU Health Community Hospitals. “This system-wide stroke certification helps fulfill ECU Health’s mission of improving the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.”

Awards | Neurology | Press Releases

Project SEARCH students get together for a photo during their graduation ceremony.

Greenville, N.C. – Project SEARCH, an educational program offered at ECU Health Medical Center (ECUHMC), is proud to announce eight students recently graduated from the program: Shaima Bader, Emonni Cannonier, Phabian Chen, Nydarious Johnson, Adrian Lewis, Andre Lewis, Marvin Sanderson and Isaac Soderstrom. Project SEARCH is a one-year internship program for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities in their last year of high school with the goal of providing real-world practical skills and
increasing the chances of competitive employment.

“ECU Health is very proud to host Project SEARCH,” said Lisa Lassiter, director of workforce development at ECU Health. “This program offers
opportunities for students to learn job tasks and skills, connects us to the communities we serve and brings diversity to our organization and the local workforce. These eight graduates have grown tremendously throughout the program, and we are all very proud of their accomplishments.”

The Project SEARCH program at ECUHMC began in 2015 through partnerships with Pitt County Schools, RHA Health Services and North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Students complete internships in various departments at the hospital, including Central Services, East Carolina Heart Institute Cafeteria, the Main Cafeteria, Endoscopy Center, Grounds, Environmental Services and the Neuroscience Intermediate Unit.

The employment rate for youth with disabilities is about 60 to 70 percent less than youth without disabilities, according to the Office of Disability Employment Policy. The development initiative has proven results with a 65 percent employment and 90 percent retention rate.

“Project SEARCH gives us an opportunity to help students transition into the workforce through employment, skills development and a customized job search in the second half of the program,” said Katie Houmard, Project SEARCH instructor. “Many of our graduates have gained competitive employment in our community upon completing the program. These students have a bright future ahead, and I am excited to see them continue to grow and become employed.”

Students who participate in the program are enrolled at various Pitt County high schools including J.H. Rose, D.H. Conley, South Central, Farmville Central, North Pitt and Ayden-Grifton. The class of 2022 is the seventh class to graduate from the program.
“Project SEARCH helps me find a job and a future to be successful,” said Bader, one of the Project SEARCH students.

The Project SEARCH program began in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) and was developed as a means to meet entry-level employment needs at CCHMC, support their diversity initiative and partner with schools and community services agencies. Project SEARCH is now an international program with over 400 sites in existence now in at least 45 states and with programs in England, Scotland, Ireland and Canada.

Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. – April 14, 2022 – Vidant Health and East Carolina University are excited to announce a logo for the ECU Health system, which will launch in the region starting in May.

“Eastern North Carolina’s vibrancy depends on strong collaboration between the institutional pillars that have long represented this region’s unique needs,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, Vidant CEO and dean of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine. “The ECU Health logo is a symbol of our shared commitment to transforming and elevating health care for millions, training the providers of tomorrow, collaborating with community partners to solve complex issues and bringing clinical innovations that improve the lives of those who proudly call this region home.”

The ECU Health logo captures the essence of an innovative regional health system comprised of more than 13,000 dedicated health care workers, a thriving university, current and future generations of doctors committed to caring for North Carolina and the unwavering commitment of two organizations working collaboratively to transform the East.

“It is exciting to be a part of ECU’s continued transformation as we work to build pathways for sustained excellence here in Greenville and the region,” said ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers. “This partnership strengthens our institutions’ shared mission and ultimately betters the communities we serve. Sharing the new ECU Health logo begins an exciting chapter as we work collaboratively to build the health care enterprise for the region and expand our reach further into eastern North Carolina.”

The rebranding process for most Vidant entities is expected to begin in May and will take several months to complete. The Brody School of Medicine’s name will not change.

Naming conventions are as follows:

Hospitals:

  • ECU Health Medical Center
  • ECU Health Beaufort Hospital – A Campus of ECU Health Medical Center
  • ECU Health Bertie Hospital
  • ECU Health Chowan Hospital
  • ECU Health Duplin Hospital
  • ECU Health Edgecombe Hospital
  • ECU Health North Hospital
  • ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan Hospital
  • The Outer Banks Hospital
  • ECU Health Maynard Children’s Hospital

Other entities:

  • ECU Health Physicians and ECU Physicians: the naming of the practice groups will be shared at a future date.

Vidant and ECU have a rich history of collaboration in health care, education and research. Vidant’s role as a regional rural health care leader, and Brody’s status as North Carolina’s leader in graduating physicians who practice in state, in primary care and in underserved areas is a natural partnership that will advance the combined mission of ECU Health.
ECU Health will strive to more effectively and efficiently address current issues facing the region – such as health disparities and care delivery obstacles – while also better anticipating future health care and educational needs.

“The rebranding to ECU Health is symbolic of the importance and longstanding cooperation of ECU’s Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health. Together, we have long stood side by side advancing the health delivery, research and education mission for eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Jason Higginson, executive dean of the Brody School of Medicine. “Having one brand will make our close and important relationship apparent to everyone.”

Featured | Press Releases

A health care provider speaks with a patient.

Wilson, N.C. – April 1, 2022 Vidant Health is excited to announce the official opening of Vidant Family Medicine – Glendale, a primary care extension of Vidant Healthplex – Wilson, which is dedicated to providing high-quality primary care services to the community.

“Vidant Family Medicine – Glendale will fill an important need in the community by providing expanded primary care services to reach more patients,” said Rashanda Elam, service line coordinator, ECU Health Physicians. “Access to primary care, particularly in rural environments, directly benefits the overall health and well-being of a community.”

Vidant Family Medicine – Glendale, located three miles from Vidant Healthplex – Wilson, will offer treatment for a variety of issues including cold and flu-like illnesses, ear infections, allergies and other illnesses as well as offer Department of Transportation (DOT) clinical physicals and Nexplanon birth control implants. Importantly, primary care doctors screen for health conditions before any signs or symptoms may appear, which can both prevent and detect conditions early. When health conditions such as cancers, high blood pressure or diabetes are caught early, the chance of successful treatment is greater.

“The new clinic is close to the Healthplex, ensuring patients have convenient access to expanded, specialty care if they need it,” said Elam. “Vidant Healthplex continues to offer the same spectrum of specialty care including immediate care, heart and vascular care, neurological care, cancer care, dermatology, sleep medicine, endocrinology and more. By opening this dedicated primary care and family medicine location, we can provide a wide spectrum of care that helps meet the community’s needs.”

Vidant Family Medicine – Glendale will open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for both children and adults. Deirdra Pearce, NP, Andrea Brooks, NP and Mallory Moore, NP will move from the Healthplex to serve at the new location. Current patients will be contacted directly with more information, or please reach out to the office with any questions and to schedule your next appointment.

The practice is located at 1704 Glendale Drive SW Suite C, Wilson, N.C. The clinic accepts walk-ins and appointments. To contact the family medicine practice, please call 252-246-8960 or visit the location page.

Heart and Vascular | Press Releases

Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of ECU Health and Dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, speaks to the Edenton Rotary Club during a meeting on March 17, 2022.

Edenton, NC – March 17, 2022 – Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of Vidant Health and Dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, joined Vidant Chowan Hospital President Brian Harvill at the Edenton Rotary Club meeting Thursday to discuss the exciting future of Vidant Health and the impact high-quality health care has on the vibrancy of eastern North Carolina.

The presentation to the Edenton Rotary Club is one of several planned this spring and summer to meet with community groups throughout the region.

“Every time I visit Edenton, I’m reminded that Vidant Chowan is one of the most important parts of this community,” Dr. Waldrum said. “Edenton and the surrounding towns have a great hospital where they can deliver babies, receive high-quality care and build their sense of community. We value the role of rural hospitals and that is why it is so important for us to have conversations about how we can best deliver health care across the region.”

Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of ECU Health and Dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, speaks to the Edenton Rotary Club during a meeting on March 17, 2022.

Vidant Health – the joint enterprise between Vidant and Brody launching in the spring – was at the top of the agenda. Vidant Health enables the two organizations, which have worked collaboratively for years, to come together under a shared brand to provide streamlined care across the hospital system. A logo will be revealed in April and re-branding, which is expected to take months to complete, will begin in May.

Dr. Waldrum said Vidant Health is the natural culmination of the two organization’s long partnership and shared mission of improving the health of eastern North Carolina. Vidant Health will build on successful innovations such as the MOTHeRS Project, which is a grant-funded program through Vidant that connects mothers in rural areas to resources for nutrition, behavioral health needs and maternal fetal medicine resources. This program is beginning in Edenton and highlights the importance of collaboration to solve complex health issues in the region, Dr. Waldrum said.

“Having babies and being able to give birth here is really important to Edenton,” Dr. Waldrum said. “Babies that are born here are more likely to stay here when they grow up. We want to support that in an innovative way by providing access to care that meets the community’s need. The MOTHeRS Project is a great example of how Brody, Vidant and the future Vidant Health will tackle complex challenges and bring a higher quality of care to the region.”

With Rotary Club members in attendance, Dr. Waldrum also spoke on the impact that access to care has on a community’s economic vibrancy. He shared that Vidant, which employs more than 13,500 team members, has a $4 billion economic impact on the region. Locally, Vidant Chowan has more than 500 team members and has a $61.3 million impact on the local economy. These numbers, Dr. Waldrum said, represent Vidant and the future Vidant Health’s commitment to caring for the community.

Health News | Press Releases

Greenville, NC – March 1, 2022 – As Vidant Health continues to respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic across North Carolina, we are taking steps to ensure the safety of all. Vidant remains vigilant with its screening process for all visitors, entry requirements and visitor restrictions by department.

In response to decreased community spread, Vidant is carefully expanding visitation in most clinical areas across the system, including for COVID-positive patients. Effective 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 2, Vidant will adopt the below screening process, entry requirements and visitor guidelines. Visitors must wear surgical masks provided at screening stations or personal N95/KN95 masks as long as they are clean, intact, without a valve and have no visible gaps.

Despite the encouraging trend of cases, it remains vitally important for community members to continue to practicing safety measures such as washing hands, wearing a mask and avoiding large gatherings.

For the latest information on Vidant’s visitor restrictions, please visit VidantHealth.com/VisitingVidant.

This is an evolving situation, and Vidant continues to monitor the spread and examine local data, including COVID-19 cases in our region and in hospitals, and will adjust visitation restrictions accordingly.

Vidant strongly encourages visitors to consider virtual visitation options such as FaceTime and phone calls. Assistance with virtual visits, including iPads for patients without the necessary technology, is available on request. Virtual visitation is the safest way to stay connected with a loved one.

Patients should limit their belongings to a few key items and refer to the below tips:

  • Bring your phone, tablet or other electronic device to connect with family members
  • Limit clothing to clean undergarments and one outfit for discharge
  • Wear or pack non-slip shoes

Covid-19 | Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. – Feb. 24, 2022 – Vidant Health is pleased to announce that Christina Bowen, M.D., ABOIM, DipACLM, has been named Vidant’s first Chief Well-being Officer, and will champion well-being efforts through the lens of team member and provider engagement and equity.

“I am excited about this new role and our commitment to our team’s well-being,” said Dr. Julie Oehlert, Vidant Health Chief Experience Officer. “There is nothing more valuable and contributory to our health care outcomes than the wonderful humans that show up every day to deliver health care and caring to the communities we serve.”

As Chief Well-being Officer effective Jan. 1, 2022, Dr. Bowen is responsible for collaborating with the entire organization to develop, guide and implement team member and provider well-being and resilience initiatives founded on evidence-based best practices and organizational data. She also collaborates with Vidant’s wellness teams to introduce and support new programs that positively influence the population health of the communities in which we proudly serve.

“I am proud to be a part of a health care organization that recognizes the importance of the overall team member experience and is committed to optimizing well-being and resilience efforts,” said Dr. Bowen. “I am very grateful to have the opportunity to pursue my passion of integrated medicine while also positively influencing the communities that I love. This is a way for Vidant to come alongside everyone who has provided amazing care to our patients, especially during the pandemic, and make sure our team members are taken care of and their wellness is in the forefront.”

In addition to serving as Chief Well-Being Officer, Dr. Bowen is an integrative medicine physician with ECU Health Physicians and the Medical Director of The Center for Healthy Living at The Outer Banks Hospital. Her previous roles at Vidant include Medical Director of the Office of Experience and Medical Director of Integrative Oncology. Dr. Bowen is board certified in family medicine, hospice and palliative medicine, lifestyle medicine and integrative medicine, and has received numerous honors and awards, including The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health’s North Carolina’s Community Star in 2020.

“The creation of this role brings continued focus to our intention of belonging,” said Mark Dunn, Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Management Officer, Vidant Health. “It is important to be our authentic selves at work and in the communities we live in and serve. Our collective well-being is important not only to our patients, but to our families. This role will help us provide support and development in an area that is needed now more than ever.”

A native of eastern North Carolina, Dr. Bowen graduated from East Carolina University in 2003 with a doctorate in medicine. In 2004, she completed her internship at Duke University Medical Center and completed her residency at Carolinas Medical Center in 2008. In 2016, she completed a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona under Dr. Andrew Weil — world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of Integrative Medicine.

Press Releases | Wellness

A provider listens to the heart and lungs of a patient.

Roanoke Rapids, N.C. – February 10, 2022 Vidant North Hospital is pleased to announce its Heart & Vascular Care will move into a newly renovated, expanded clinic location near the hospital on Feb. 14, 2022. The upgraded facility allows Vidant Heart & Vascular Care to provide multiple advanced clinical services, including thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, cardiac electrophysiology and pediatric cardiology, to Roanoke Rapids at one convenient location.

“The opening of our renovated clinic aligns with National Heart Month, and a very symbolic day we associate with matters of the heart, Valentine’s Day,” said Dr. Kenneth Robert, regional medical director of ambulatory services, Vidant North Hospital. ”Vidant Heart & Vascular Care will help support a focus on raising awareness for heart disease, screenings, education and promotion of access of care close to home through a connected system of care.”

A provider listens to the heart and lungs of a patient.

The addition of new clinical providers expands the ability for more patients to be examined quickly in the event of cardiovascular needs. A local team including a cardiologist, interventional cardiologist and an adult nurse practitioner will be on-site, and a team of outreach providers will be available through specific scheduled times. This outreach team includes an electrophysiologist, scheduled once a week and typically scheduled by referral, a thoracic surgeon, scheduled once a week by referral and a pediatric cardiologist, scheduled once a month by appointment.

“This opportunity allows cardiac providers to better serve the community in a meaningful way and to build upon the relationships with patients and their loved ones,” said Dr. Brian Cabarrus, Vidant cardiologist. “This upgrade in clinical space and greater access to cardiac and peripheral diagnostics helps enhance the patient and team member experiences.”

The services and accessibility of quality care offered by Vidant Heart & Vascular Care – Roanoke Rapids ties directly into Vidant and the future Vidant Health’s commitment to improve health outcomes in communities across eastern North Carolina.

“This is an important day for Vidant North Hospital and the communities it serves,” said Jason Harrell, president, Vidant North. “Providing high-quality, comprehensive heart and vascular care close to home is an important part of how we meet our mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.”

Vidant Heart & Vascular Care – Roanoke Rapids will be open weekdays, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The clinic will offer care for patients that do not have a primary care provider and will connect them with one after their initial visit.

The new location for Vidant Heart & Vascular Care – Roanoke Rapids is 220 Smith Church Road, Roanoke Rapids, NC, 27870. For medical referrals, appointments and consultations, call 252-537-9268.

Health News | Heart and Vascular | Press Releases