CarolinaEast in New Bern, UNC Health announce affiliation

CarolinaEast CEO and President Ray Leggett announces the affiliation with UNC Health. Photo by Randy Foster / New Bern Now

By Randy Foster / New Bern Now

CarolinaEast Health System, which owns CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern, announced it will become part of Chapel Hill-based UNC Health through a “comprehensive affiliation.”

“This is a big day for us,” said CarolinaEast CEO and President Ray Leggett.

He said affiliation with UNC Health will allow CarolinaEast to be a teaching hospital with “potential that is almost unlimited.”

Leggett said negotiations between the two entities has been in progress for a couple of years, following their affiliation with the SECU Comprehensive Cancer Center on the CarolinaEast campus.

“Affiliating with UNC Health and working toward becoming a healthcare hub in this region is a tremendous opportunity for CarolinaEast and the people we serve,” said Ray Leggett, president and CEO of CarolinaEast Health System,” he said.

CarolinaEast remains a separate legal entity under the authority of its own Board of Directors. The authority of the Craven County Board of Commissioners to approve CarolinaEast board appointments remains unchanged.

The affiliation between UNC Health and CarolinaEast “will enhance the quality of healthcare in the eastern part of the state while simultaneously growing specialty services in Craven County and beyond,” the newly affiliated systems said in a news release.

Allen Hardison, chairman of the CarolinaEast Health System Board of Directors, said the change will provide an opportunity to remain locally owned and operated while at the same time benefiting from affiliation with a “globally renowned health system. The affiliation with UNC Health will be mutually valuable to both organizations, but most importantly to the people that call Eastern North Carolina home.”

UNC Health and CarolinaEast already team up with the 80,000-square-foot SECU Comprehensive Cancer Center at CarolinaEast.

Affiliation between the two will:

  • Form a high-performance network of facilities and clinicians focused on elevating public health and keeping more care local by increasing access to primary and higher-level specialty services.
  • Enhance and grow CarolinaEast’s clinical programs and service lines.
  • Improve access to research and clinical trials for patients across the region.
  • Leverage UNC Health’s existing population health solutions to the benefit of the residents of the region.
  • Explore rural health care models.
  • Transition CarolinaEast to the Epic electronic health records system.

UNC Health has formed similar partnerships with hospitals in Lenoir, Onslow, and Wayne counties.

“We look forward to working with UNC Health entities in Eastern North Carolina including Onslow, Wayne, and Lenoir hospitals,” Leggett said.

“The prospect of expanding on health education capabilities offered at UNC and welcoming residents, fellows, and med students to our facilities will no doubt make us even better and stronger for our region,” he said.