More questions than answers in Vidant and ECU Physicians merger

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Nearly six months after Vidant Medical Group and ECU Physicians announced plans of merging, there are still more questions than answers.

Leaders from both sides said although not much has been released publicly, there are still hundreds of people working behind the scene to make the transition work and go smoothly.

“I think when you take a not for profit with a state owned entity, they’re very complex organizations individually, much less when you try to put them together,” said Betsy Tuttle-Newhall, who works for both ECU and Vidant.

Officials said they still don’t know how many Vidant and ECU employees would be transferred into the new group with the merger. They also don’t know when plans would be finalized.

One of the biggest concerns from employees is what happens with their benefits. ECU employees could stand to lose some, or all, of their state benefits.

Tuttle-Newhall said they hope to avoid that.

“There is no intent to take anybody’s benefits away,” she said. “What those benefits will be in some part up to the individual.”

An outside consultant group was brought in to look at different possibilities when it came to benefits. Their report is supposed to be presented in January.

After that, individual meetings with employees are supposed to take place from March until October to discuss benefit options.

Vidant Chief of Neurosurgery Dr. Stuart Lee has already gone through the process of moving from state benefits to private ones.

“Having been on both sides, it is a little difficult when you switch, but we all made it though it,” he said.

Leaders said the merger is intended to improve patient care and access across the East.

Lee said with so many unknowns in the healthcare world, joining together could provide better job security and advancement opportunities for employees.

“We have to go on the assumption that there’s only so much pie for healthcare, it’s not going to get bigger,” he said. “I think we have to plan for the future.”

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