By Jim Pomeranz
After a year of negotiations, eastern North Carolina’s largest health care provider is acquiring ECU Physicians, the clinical practice of the Greenville university’s Brody School of Medicine. The proposed deal totals $462.5 million, with Vidant Medical Group paying $35 million upfront to East Carolina University then $14.25 million annually for 30 years. That’s a 30% increase from the $11 million that the medical school has collected in recent years from the physicians group. While the deal has officially closed, no final merger date has been set.
The transaction will help rein in patient costs, increase access to new treatments and clinical trials, and offer more training sites for medical students, says Rick Niswander, vice chancellor for administration and finance at ECU. It also reduces financial pressures at Brody, which in recent years has faced budget cuts and increased bad debt from uninsured patients.
“We finally realized both need each other. Without the Brody School of Medicine, Vidant would be a shadow of itself, and without Vidant, East Carolina would not have the vast teaching facilities it needs to train doctors in eastern North Carolina,” Niswander says. No other hospital systems bid.
Payments will go into an endowment fund for the medical school. The combined practice will be known as VECU Medical Group with a board chaired by Mark Stacy, the newly appointed dean of the medical school. Vidant will nominate six board members, while ECU will have five picks.
Vidant’s plan for ECU Physicians staff members is sparking criticism at the State Employees Association of North Carolina, which worries some workers may be forced to retire earlier than desired. The system has made no cost-savings pledges and is treating all workers equally, Vidant spokesman Chad Campbell says.
The physicians’ group employs more than 400 physicians at 25 primary-care and specialty clinics and in the emergency department of Greenville’s Vidant Medical Center. Vidant Health, with eight hospitals and 420 providers, had revenue of $1.6 billion last year.
ROCKY MOUNT — Providence Bank will acquire CB Financial, parent of Wilson-based Cornerstone Bank, for $11.2 million. The combined bank will have about $400 million in assets. Providence has four branches in eastern N.C. Cornerstone has one branch in Wilson.
WASHINGTON — Parker Hannafin will close its local fuel-products plant, idling 220 assemblers and other workers by year-end. The Cleveland-based industrial parts company acquired the former Clarcor plant in February.
WASHINGTON — Flanders Solutions closed its filter-manufacturing plant and laid off 74 workers in July. The company was acquired by Japan-based Daikin for $430 million in 2016. Daikin is consolidating production at an Arkansas plant.
TARBORO — Virginia Beach-based General Foam Plastics plans to lay off all 215 workers at its local plant by year-end. The company makes artificial Christmas trees, plastic pools, sandboxes and holiday decorations.
WILMINGTON — Craig Heim was named president and CEO of United Way of the Cape Fear Area. The Syracuse University graduate has worked for eight United Way groups across the U.S.
Featured photo is of Vidant Medical Center provided by Vidant Health