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Vidant North Hospital, formerly Halifax Regional Medical Center, will lose three positions as a decision to cut 191 positions across Vidant Health was announced today.

A statement by the health system this afternoon did not specify what those positions were and in a follow-up response Vidant said at this point it would not go into detail beyond the statement.

The bulk of the reductions, according to a breakdown provided in the statement, shows  Vidant Health corporate will lose 82 positions; Vidant Medical Center 75; and Vidant Medical Group 11.

The only Vidant facility which will not see cuts is Vidant Bertie.

The remaining reductions are: Vidant Beaufort seven; Vidant Edgecombe four; Vidant Roanoke-Chowan four; Vidant Chowan two; Vidant Duplin two; and Outer Banks Hospital one.

The statement released this afternoon comes on the heels of a WITN report concerning the reductions in an email the TV station received.

The email from which WITN reported was sent by Vidant CEO Mike Waldrum and said, "Today, we are announcing the difficult decision to implement a workforce reduction which includes separating 191 team members." 

Vidant statement

In the statement today, the healthcare system said, “Vidant Health has been at the forefront of conversations about the challenges facing health systems in rural America and especially here at home in eastern North Carolina. Like others, Vidant is faced with a traditionally underserved population with a high burden of disease, a growing number of patients relying on Medicaid and a lack of focus on rural health policy.

“Although the need for Vidant services remains high and volumes are up, the organization experienced a budget shortfall during the first quarter of FY20 due to decreasing reimbursements and increasing costs.”

In response to the challenges, Vidant said it has made adjustments in order to “remain a pillar of excellent care in our communities,” including reducing costs; implementing operational efficiencies; and discontinuing recruitment and hiring for certain non-patient care positions.

Said the statement: “The next step is the most difficult. Through a careful and objective assessment, Vidant determined the need for a workforce reduction which includes separating 191 team members.”

Said Waldrum in the statement: “Making decisions that impact even one team member’s life is very difficult. We deeply value the contributions made by every team member. We are ensuring those impacted are supported by providing severance and comprehensive career counselling services. This is not something we take lightly, and we will treat all impacted team members with respect.”

Vidant said despite these challenges, “more than 14,000 dedicated team members go to work each day to deliver quality care for the 29 counties served by Vidant. As the largest employer in eastern North Carolina, the health system is an integral part of the regional economy with nine hospitals and more than 100 practices delivering care for communities throughout the East.”

Waldrum said, “These are difficult decisions, but necessary to ensure eastern North Carolina continues to have a health care system capable of supporting rural communities throughout the region. The well-being of the region depends on a healthy population. Our commitment to our mission is at the forefront of all that we do.”

Said the statement: “Vidant will continue to stand up for eastern North Carolina and speak about the need for policies that support rural health care. Vidant cannot overcome these challenges alone and is grateful for all of the team members, community members, local officials and business leaders committed to strengthening the East.

WITN reported In an earlier email to employees, the CEO told them they had an $18 million budget shortfall during the first quarter of FY20.

Butterfield statement

Meanwhile, United States Congressman G. K. Butterfield released a statement earlier today on the matter. 

“It is unfortunate that Vidant Health had to make the difficult decision to lay off valuable hospital staff. Vidant Health, like many rural hospitals and health care providers, has experienced decreased revenue due to uncompensated care,” Butterfield said. “Rural hospitals operate on razor thin margins and often do not have the capacity to absorb these costs. Studies have found that when states expand Medicaid uninsured rates for low-income adults decline drastically, which reduces uncompensated care and gives lifelines to rural hospitals.”

Butterfield said, “The General Assembly’s decision not to expand Medicaid has not only harmed patient access to care and the overall healthcare system of eastern North Carolina, but, as we are seeing today, it’s having devastating ripple effects across the local economy as well.

“Make no mistake, the General Assembly’s decision to deny Medicaid coverage to low-income adults is a major contributor to these layoffs. The federal government has offered the state of North Carolina a 90 percent reimbursement if the General Assembly expands Medicaid. It is appalling that an excellent healthcare provider such as Vidant must lay off hardworking employees because of the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid.”

Butterfield ended his statement, saying, “I call upon the Republican leadership in the General Assembly to reconsider its decision to refuse expansion of Medicaid. It’s time to cease political stunts and expand medical coverage to low-income North Carolinians.”