UNC sues Vidant over hospital board shuffle

The University of North Carolina is suing county-owned Vidant Medical Center over changes made last month to the hospital's board.

Greenville, N.C.-based Vidant Medical Center is owned by Pitt County, but UNC has operated the facility since 1975. Under that operating agreement, Vidant Medical Center agreed to serve as the primary teaching hospital for East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, and UNC agreed not to build a teaching hospital that would compete with it, according to The News & Observer.

Under an affiliation agreement, most recently renewed in 2013, Pitt County appointed 11 members to Vidant Medical Center's board of trustees, and UNC appointed the other nine. However, that changed in April when Pitt County commissioners approved eliminating UNC's board appointments and giving them to Vidant.

UNC and ECU sued Vidant and Pitt County over the change on May 20. The complaint alleges that changing the makeup of the hospital board violates the affiliation agreement. UNC is asking the court for a temporary injunction.

"ECU, with strong support from the University System, takes the stewardship responsibility regarding the Brody School of Medicine and its historic public mission with the utmost seriousness," UNC said in a press release. "Vidant's unexpected elimination of the appointment powers vested in the UNC Board of Governors, accomplished without consultation, creates serious concerns about a relationship that has served eastern North Carolina well since its inception in 1975."

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