GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — ECU Health on Wednesday announced it is closing five regional ambulatory clinic sites as part of several clinical and operational adjustments “designed to help the organization adapt to a rapidly-changing health care environment while creating clinical and operational efficiencies needed to ensure the immediate and long-term sustainability of the health system.”

These are the five clinics set to close:

  • ECU Health Women’s Care – Williamston: Positions relocating to ECU Health Women’s Care – Washington or nearby ECU Health Physicians clinics.
  • ECU Health Family Medicine – Jacksonville: Primary care positions relocating to ECU Health Multispecialty Clinic – Richlands, and cardiology positions relocating to ECU Health Duplin Hospital.
  • ECU Health’s Wilson Immediate Care: Immediate care services in Wilson will cease, and positions will transition to ECU Healthplex – Wilson. Same-day walk-ins for established patients will remain.
  • ECU Health Family Medicine – Aurora: Positions relocating to ECU Health Family Medicine – Chocowinity or nearby ECU Health Physicians clinics.
  • ECU Health Family Medicine – Snow Hill: Positions relocating to ECU Health Multispecialty Clinic – Kinston or nearby ECU Health Physicians clinic locations.

“In alignment with the previously announced 2025 opening of the new behavioral health hospital in Greenville and accelerated by the ongoing national labor shortage, ECU Health North will discontinue operation of its inpatient behavioral health unit effective Feb. 25,” ECU Health said in a press release. “The licensed beds will transition to the new behavioral health hospital.

“Importantly, patients in the community will continue to have access to inpatient behavioral health care at ECU Health Medical Center, ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan Hospital and other non-ECU Health locations. ECU Health North will work closely with patients and referrers as a result of this transition. ECU Health North will continue to evaluate patients in the emergency department for placement or in need of inpatient behavioral health care.”

The health system said it ended the 2022 fiscal year with an operating margin of -2% ($46 million loss) “primarily driven by financial pressures including a disproportionate number of uninsured or underinsured patients as well as labor costs for travel staff.”

ECU Health reaches more than 1.4 million people across 29 counties, according to its website. The health system operates nine hospital locations.

“These decisions were made following a detailed review of patient census, nearby availability of similar services and staffing realities,” ECU Health said. “Importantly, the health system will work closely with patients to transition care to nearby locations. Dedicated resources are available to support team members impacted by the clinic closures and help them relocate to nearby locations. Dedicated resources are also available to support the 22 team members impacted by the ECU Health North Inpatient Behavioral Health decision and help them identify roles within the health system for which they are interested and qualified. 

“These adjustments, combined with other cost-saving initiatives, are necessary to respond to the current state of health care across the nation and here in North Carolina. ECU Health continues to be vocal in its advocacy for funding programs such as Medicaid Expansion and the Healthcare Access and Stabilization Program (HASP) as well as other state and federal resources that are part of the solution to stabilize health care in rural communities. While ECU Health is cautiously optimistic one or both of these programs may come to fruition later this year, the health system must continue to evolve and optimize operations to ensure it is able to meet its mission now and into the future. This includes making difficult, yet necessary, operational decisions.”