In July, NHRMC and New Hanover County officials made a major announcement about the future of the health system, which is the area’s largest medical provider and the region’s largest employer.
They announced a process to see who’s interested in buying or managing the county-owned hospital.
Although officials say that option has been discussed for years as more local governments got out of hospital ownership, the move still surprised many in the community.
At the July press briefing, several county commissioners talked about how proceeds from a potential hospital sale could infuse New Hanover County with a significant amount of funding.
NHRMC President and CEO John Gizdic and New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet, who made the initial joint announcement, spent the following months assuaging the public that a sale is not a foregone conclusion, nor the only option for changing up New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s future operating model.
At a series of public meetings, they pointed to NHRMC’s strong financial footing as a reason to try and negotiate now, as well as industrywide shifts that could impact revenues in the future.
Because NHRMC is a public facility, state law dictates parts of how the process must go, including a vote from local government officials to move forward.
The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners in September voted 3-2 to do that, with commissioners Woody White, Julia Olson-Boseman and Pat Kusek in favor and commissioners Jonathan Barfield Jr. and Rob Zapple against.
In the wake of the announcement, a group opposed to a sale or partnership formed called Save Our Hospital Inc. whose members have raised the possibility of legal action in the case of a sale.
The hospital and county this fall pulled together a 21-member group to wade through the upcoming process – with the help of NHRMC’s consulting firm – including crafting a request for proposals to be sent to outside health systems, weighing the pitches that are submitted and potentially negotiating with one or more parties that make the cut.
The group also is expected to research options for keeping NHRMC as a county-owned entity. The Partnership Advisory Group is made up of a mix of hospital trustees, medical staff physicians and community members. The group does not have a binding vote on any deal – or lack of a deal.
It will make recommendations to the NHRMC trustees and county commissioners, with both of those bodies having the final say about whether to move ahead with proposals and ultimately any final agreement if one is offered next year.
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