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

Greenville, NC – March 14, 2022 – As Vidant 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 across the system, including for COVID-positive patients. Effective 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 16, Vidant will adopt the below 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

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

Covid-19 | Health News

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, NC – Dec. 29, 2021 – As Vidant Health continues to respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing spread of the Omicron variant, we are taking steps to ensure the safety of all. In consultation with infectious disease experts and based on current trends, Vidant is proactively updating visitor guidelines for the health system and adjusting the reopening of the Wellness Center – Greenville.

Vidant continues to strongly encourage masking, vaccinations and boosters, as we all work together to combat COVID-19.

Visitor Guidelines
Effective 8 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 30, Vidant will update its visitor guidelines across the system, including restricted visitation and a new requirement that all visitors wear a hospital-issued mask. Cloth masks will no longer be permitted. Visitors should also be mindful of Vidant’s new screening process and are encouraged to visit VidantHealth.com/checkin to register prior to their visit.

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.

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

Wellness Center – Greenville
Originally scheduled to fully reopen on Jan. 1, the Greenville Wellness Center will open with limited services only starting on Jan. 1, such as personal training, private lessons, fitness orientations and tours. The fitness center, indoor track and pool will remain closed for general membership for the time being. Community members signed up to become members of the Greenville Wellness Center will receive additional details directly from the Wellness Center.

Vidant leadership, with guidance from our infectious disease experts, will continue to review the COVID data and spread throughout the coming weeks to determine a date for a full reopening.

The Wellness Centers in Ahoskie and Washington will continue their current operations.

All Vidant Wellness facilities will follow stringent COVID protocols for the safety of all including required masking for all members, visitors and staff, effective Dec. 29.

For more information, please visit https://www.ecuhealth.org/services/wellness-prevention/vidant-wellness-centers/#covid-19-update

Covid-19 | Press Releases

An ECU Health team member prepares a COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Greenville, N.C. – Nov. 02, 2021 Eligible community members who received their first two Pfizer-BioNTech (also known as Comirnaty) or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses at least 6 months ago, or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 months ago can now schedule a COVID-19 booster shot appointment through Vidant Health by visiting VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate or calling 252-847-8000.

Vidant is offering booster shots to eligible community members in accordance with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) guidelines. Appointments can be scheduled at Vidant clinics throughout the region.

BOOSTER SHOTS FOR PFIZER & MODERNA VACCINE RECIPIENTS
Community members who initially received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine must wait at least 6 months since their second dose and meet at least one of the below criteria:

  • 65 or older
  • 18 or older and live in a long-term care facility
  • 18 or older, have a medical condition that puts you at high risk for severe COVID-19, and believe the benefit of receiving a booster outweighs the risk of receiving the booster.
  • 18 or older, have higher risk of exposure due to work or living situations, and believe the benefit of receiving a booster outweighs the risk of receiving the booster.

BOOSTER SHOTS FOR JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE RECIPIENTS
Community members who initially received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine must be 18 or older and wait at least 2 months from their initial dose.

Studies show that after being vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time and provide less protection against the Delta variant. A booster shot may help increase immune response and improve protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

There are now booster recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for all three available COVID-19 vaccines. Individuals can receive any brand of the COVID-19 vaccine for their booster shot, regardless of which brand they received initially.

THIRD DOSE FOR IMMUNOCOMPROMISED – PFIZER AND MODERNA ONLY
In addition to the new booster shot eligibility, Vidant previously announced it is closely following CDC guidance to provide third doses to eligible immunocompromised community members. A third dose may prevent serious and possibly life-threatening complications of COVID-19 in immunocompromised people who may not have responded to their initial vaccine series.

Appointments can be scheduled at Vidant clinics and oncology practices throughout the region for community members who meet the below criteria:

  • You have had an organ or stem cell transplant.
  • You are receiving chemotherapy, other treatment for cancer or tumors, taking biologic agents (Humira, Enbrel, Remicade, etc.), taking high doses of prednisone, or taking similar drugs. Many of these drugs are used for treatment of cancer, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis.
  • You have a disease that weakens your immune system (like HIV or a primary immune system disease).
  • Your doctor told you that you are immunosuppressed.

The third dose is recommended for immunocompromised individuals at least 28 days after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and is not recommended for those who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is also identified by its new brand name Comirnaty.

Please continue checking back to VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate for the latest information on Vidant’s vaccine efforts.

Covid-19 | Press Releases

COVID-19 vaccines are prepared in a clinic

Greenville, N.C. – Oct. 1, 2021 Community members who received their first two Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses at least 6 months ago and meet the specified criteria below can now schedule a COVID-19 booster shot appointment through Vidant Health by visiting VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate or calling 252-847-8000.

PFIZER BOOSTER SHOT FOR 65+ AND HIGH RISK COMMUNITY MEMBERS

Vidant is offering booster shots to eligible community members in accordance with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) guidelines. Appointments can be scheduled at Vidant clinics throughout the region if it has been at least 6 months since your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and you meet at least one of the below criteria:

  • You are 65 or older.
  • You are 18 or older and live in a long-term care facility.
  • You are 18 or older, have a medical condition that puts you at high risk for severe COVID-19, and believe the benefit of receiving a booster outweighs the risk of receiving the booster.
  • You are 18 or older, are higher risk of exposure due to work or living situations, and believe the benefit of receiving a booster outweighs the risk of receiving the booster.

The booster shot is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for individuals at least 6 months after their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and is not currently authorized for those who received the Moderna vaccine or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

THIRD DOSE FOR IMMUNOCOMPROMISED – PFIZER AND MODERNA ONLY

In addition to the new booster shot eligibility, Vidant previously announced it is closely following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to provide third doses to eligible community members. A third dose may prevent serious and possibly life-threatening complications of COVID-19 in immunocompromised people who may not have responded to their initial vaccine series.

Appointments can be scheduled at Vidant clinics and oncology practices throughout the region for community members who meet the below criteria:

  • You’ve had an organ or stem cell transplant.
  • You’re receiving chemotherapy, other treatment for cancer or tumors, taking biologic agents (Humira, Enbrel, Remicade, etc.), taking high doses of prednisone, or taking similar drugs. Many of these drugs are used for treatment of cancer, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis.
  • You have a disease that weakens your immune system (like HIV or a primary immune system disease).
  • Your doctor told you that you’re immunosuppressed.

The third dose is recommended for immunocompromised individuals at least 28 days after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and is not recommended for those who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is also identified by its new brand name Comirnaty.

Please continue checking back to VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate for the latest information on Vidant’s vaccine efforts.

Covid-19 | Press Releases

Dr. Matthew Ledoux

As a pediatrician serving eastern North Carolina, as well as a father to school-aged children, I truly appreciate the important role that in-person education has on the health and well-being of students. Schools are where children make lasting friendships, learn important social skills and receive a high-quality education that prepares them for life.

As we learned from the last school year, the only way we can keep our students in the classroom is to keep COVID-19 out of schools. That responsibility ultimately lies with parents and adults. With the Delta variant continuing to spread, even among children, we must do all we can to protect students by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask and practicing the common-sense safety measures that protect us all.

The Delta variant, which infects and presents serious symptoms in children at much higher rates than the original strain, is predominant in our community. In fact, it accounts for almost 100 percent of new COVID-19 cases detected through Vidant and ECU’s joint lab.

To protect our children and keep them in the classroom, it is crucial for everyone to wear a mask, especially if indoors and close together. Wearing a mask not only protects yourself, but also those around you. When all children are wearing masks in schools, only the person who tests positive for COVID-19 needs to go home and quarantine. If they are not wearing masks, the entire classroom, including the teacher, must be out to quarantine. Simply put, masks help keep kids in the learning environment.

In addition to masks, there are other measures we can take as parents to keep our kids safe. If your child is sick, keep them home. Do a quick symptom screener every morning to make sure they do not have a fever or any symptoms of COVID-19. Make sure your children routinely wash their hands and know how to properly wear masks.

If your child is eligible for the vaccine, get them vaccinated. If you are eligible, get vaccinated. Vaccines for school-aged children are nothing new, and the COVID-19 vaccine should be part of that routine if your child is eligible. Let’s do all we can to protect our community, keep our students in the classroom and give our children the best chance to succeed in their education.

For information on vaccines, please visit VidantHealth.com/vaccinate.

Covid-19 | Editorial

Greenville, NC – Sept. 3, 2021 – Moderately or severely immunocompromised community members can now schedule a third dose COVID-19 vaccine appointment through Vidant Health by calling 252-847-8000 or by visiting VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate. A third dose may prevent serious and possibly life-threatening COVID-19 in immunocompromised people who may not have responded to their initial vaccine series.

Vidant Health is closely following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance to provide third doses to eligible community members. Appointments can be scheduled at Vidant Health clinics and oncology practices throughout the region for immunocompromised, eligible community members who meet the below criteria:

  • You’ve had an organ or stem cell transplant
  • You’re receiving chemotherapy, other treatment for cancer or tumors, taking biologic agents (Humira, Enbrel, Remicade, etc.), taking high doses of prednisone, or taking similar drugs. Many of these drugs are used for treatment of cancer, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis.
  • You have a disease that weakens your immune system (like HIV or a primary immune system disease)
  • Your doctor told you that you’re immunosuppressed

The third dose is recommended for immunocompromised individuals at least 28 days after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and is not recommended for those who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

Vidant Health is following CDC guidance and is not currently offering additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time. Please continue checking back to VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate for the latest information on Vidant’s vaccine efforts.

Covid-19 | Press Releases

Local data

We continue to see a similarly troubling trend in our region, with COVID-positive hospitalizations in the Vidant Health system rising from 43 on July 17 to 169 on Aug. 30.

Dr. Leigh Patterson, an emergency medicine physician at ECU Health Medical Center (VMC) and ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, spoke to the media on Aug. 30 to address the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We are currently seeing record numbers of patients presenting to the emergency department seeking care,” Dr. Patterson said. “We are seeing record numbers of children, more children than we have seen at any point in the pandemic up until now.”

Dr. Ogugua Obi, a critical care physician at VMC and Brody School of Medicine, said the burden of care on hospital team members is immense in the current state of COVID-19 but hospital staff continues to show up and care for a region.

“We have an excellent team of physicians and nurses – our teams are excellent, they’re first-class,” Dr. Obi said. “They’re doing all that they can to take care of our critically ill patients, but we are exhausted. We are seeing more death and suffering in our ICUs than we have ever seen before.”

The data continues to show that the vaccines are effective at lessening the severity and impact of this virus.

On Aug. 29, 87 percent of those hospitalized in a Vidant hospital were not vaccinated. Of those in the Vidant system on Aug. 29, 45 COVID-positive patients were in the ICU with 21 on ventilators. Only two of those patients on ventilators were fully vaccinated. Vidant has had no patients hospitalized due to reactions from the vaccine. The vaccine is available to everyone age 12 and older and appointments can be found at VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Safety, as of Aug. 30, 65 percent of North Carolinians 18 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 60 percent are fully vaccinated.

Get vaccinated today

Dr. Obi asked that everyone do their part to help slow this pandemic and take a COVID-19 vaccine if you are able.

“We know the vaccines are safe, we know the vaccines are effective and the vaccines are very readily available here in eastern North Carolina,” Dr. Obi said. “Please take the vaccine. Take the vaccine to protect yourself, take the vaccine to protect your family, take the vaccine to protect your loved ones, take the vaccine to protect our staff, take the vaccine to protect our nurses, take the vaccine to protect our physicians.  Help us take care of all of eastern North Carolina.”

Dr. Matthew Ledoux, a pediatrician at VMC and Brody School of Medicine, reiterated messages that have been important to slowing the spread of COVID-19 since the very beginning of community spread:

Watch a recap of Monday’s press conference:

Covid-19

VMC President Brian Floyd discusses COVID-19 during an August 2021 press conference.

As of Aug. 18, there were 2,930 COVID-positive hospitalizations in North Carolina. This is up from 623 just one month ago—a 370 percent increase. In addition, Aug. 17 had the highest COVID-related ED visits across the state since the pandemic started in early 2020.

Local data

We continue to see a similarly-troubling trend in our region, with hospitalizations in the Vidant Health system rising from 34 on July 17 to more than 123 on Aug. 17. The 29 counties Vidant serves are currently the highest in the state for the seven-day moving average for COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“We were in a pretty good place,” Vidant Chief Medical Officer Dr. Niti Armistead said. “The transmission had slowed down, more and more people were getting vaccinated and protected, hospitalization days started to really come down, number of cases started to come down and many of us thought we were just in the last leg of this marathon. What changed was the vaccination rates just hit a wall.”

The data continues to show that the vaccines are effective at lessening the severity and impact of this virus.

On Aug. 16, 91 percent of those hospitalized in a Vidant hospital were not vaccinated. Of those in the Vidant system on Aug. 15, 36 COVID-positive patients were in the ICU with 22 on ventilators. Only one of those patients was fully vaccinated. Vidant has had no patients hospitalized due to reactions from the vaccine. The vaccine is available to everyone age 12 and older and appointments can be found at VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Safety, as of Aug. 20, 64 percent of North Carolinians 18 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 59 percent are fully vaccinated. For eastern North Carolina, those numbers drop to 56 percent with at least one dose and 51 percent fully vaccinated.

Get vaccinated today

Chief of Adult Medical Services at ECU Health Medical Center (VMC) Dr. Paul Bolin said the demographics of those coming to the hospital with COVID-19 are skewing younger than at any other time during the pandemic. Bolin, who also serves as the chair of the department of medicine at Brody School of Medicine, compared getting the vaccine to wearing a seatbelt in a car and said your chances of surviving COVID with the vaccine are 25 fold better than without.

“I think the most important thing to understand is this,” Dr. Bolin said. “There have been a very small number of complications from the vaccine. That is a one-time event that occurs after the vaccination. Your risk of dying from COVID if you’re not vaccinated continues day after day after day after day until this pandemic is over.”

VMC President and Vidant COO Brian Floyd hosted a press conference recently to discuss the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, especially as we experience another surge in cases and hospitalizations.

“Take care of your loved ones, take care of your community and help us take care of this team that’s been here for the public for the last year and a half looking out for their interests,” Floyd said. “It’s a personal choice we make on a mask or vaccine or whatever, but it is a public impact. You are making that choice on behalf of more than you – you’re making it on behalf of people.”

Floyd reiterated messages that have been important to slowing the spread of COVID-19 since the very beginning of community spread:

Learn more about Vidant’s COVID-19 efforts in recent interviews with Public Radio East and WNCT.

Covid-19