This past Tuesday, Jim Perry, District 7 North Carolina Senator spoke with Pirate Radio 1250 about the East Carolina University and Vidant situation.
ECU and Vidant are currently in mediation as they try to come to a settlement to prevent a lawsuit as a result of Vidant electing members to their Board of Trustees without the consent of the Board of Governors.
Perry said he believes Governor Roy Cooper will veto the budget which will allot for $18 million to building a new building for Brody School of Medicine.
He said the governor will veto the budget “without regard” for the many good things in Eastern North Carolina. He believes this will impact everyone east of Interstate 95 in Pitt, Lenoir, Greene, and Wayne counties.
“I think that a veto is probably automatic and then we are also just going to have to work very hard to make some deals to see if we can obtain the votes to override it,” Perry said.
Perry said he has friends on the Board of Governors, Vidant Board of Trustees and friends that have close ties to the hospital and he knows a lot of the parties involved and was asked by his contacts in Raleigh to reach out and try to find a resolution.
$15 million will go towards a new building for Brody School of Medicine and $215 million the next year will go towards construction of the building, but this deal is contingent on the Vidant Board of Trustees going back to their original administration.
Perry said there are four teaching hospitals in North Carolina, one in the UNC System. He said Vidant got special treatment because Pitt County Memorial made a deal with them to have the special provision which gives them Medicaid reimbursement. This is a privilege Duke University and Wake Forest Baptist Health do not have.
“If they want to be just a stand-alone organization like this action represents they’ve taken, then they get treated like everyone else,” Perry said.
Perry said those in the east have wanted a new Brody School of Medicine for a long time so they’re trying to figure out how to fix this situation while still having funding in place. He said the language in the budget says additional money is dependant upon a current, “non-inbreeched” agreement allowing the UNC Board of Governors to appoint 45 percent of the Vidant Medical Board of Trustees.
Perry said $15 million will be allotted the first year of the biennium, $13 million the second year and then after this study is complete they will move to the construction phase. He said, “if Vidant has undone the action that they took,” North Carolina will fund $215 million to build a “larger, nicer” Brody School of Medicine.
“We’ll be able to produce higher volume of primary care physicians, we’ll have some world-class facilities and we look at this like, ‘Okay, this is turning lemons into lemonade, this is a positive outcome for those of us in the east,’” Perry said.
When asked about Mark Waldrum, Perry declined to comment whether or not he believed Waldrum has been dishonest during the current Vidant-ECU situation. Perry said, “I understand there's some confusion out there and I wish that was not the case.”
Perry said the chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, Harry Smith, is similar to ECU Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach because he has a great appreciation for facts. He said Smith has shared facts when they were unpopular and is vocal in his thoughts and beliefs.
Perry said Smith has a track record of being accurate in the past and like Gerlach has always been accurate and fact-based when sharing information with him in the past.