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Novant Health Presentation: ‘Best Of Both Worlds’

By Vicky Janowski, posted Jun 10, 2020
Update: This story has been updated to include the full video of Novant Health's presentation.

In their public presentation Wednesday, Novant Health leaders stressed the system’s large reach – including already in Southeastern North Carolina – as well as its recent agreement with UNC Health when it comes to New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
 
“We are bringing, I believe, the best of both worlds: one of the largest not-for-profit health care systems in the country that’s financially strong along with UNC Health Care and UNC medical school to really enhance and grow the economic development of Wilmington,” Novant Health President and CEO Carl Armato said.
 
The Winston-Salem-based health system has more than 600 clinics and 15 hospitals in its network. Armato said that 60% of those clinics are primary care – a sign of the system’s “focused growth, bringing care closer to where people live.”
 
“So it’s really about opening up access to care, to all of those who need it,” Armato said. “And again, we’re financially strong, which allows us to ensure that the price points we introduce in all of our markets are affordable to all the individuals that we serve.”
 
The talk, the second of three from the short list of health systems interested in partnering or buying NHRMC, was streamed online and on TV so that the public could watch. The talk was hosted by the Partnership Advisory Group (PAG) and included several Novant Health executive team members as well as the Novant’s board members who listened in.
 
A Q&A with the PAG members took place after the public portion and in closed session.
 
Duke Health presented Tuesday. (Click here for the recap and full presentation video.) Atrium Health’s talk is slated for Thursday.
 
Novant has expressed a strong interest in purchasing the county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center, offering up to $2 billion to New Hanover County, $50 million to the NHRMC Foundation to fund unmet community needs and $3.1 billion investment in strategic master plan projects over the next decade.
 
“We actually proposed a very significant financial commitment to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, that local board, that management team, that community – your community. And we want you to know that we have the resources to back that up,” Armato said.
 
Novant Health had $5.4 billion in revenue and $4.6 billion in net assets last year.
 
The system, which already has a local presence with Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center in Bolivia and physician group practices throughout Brunswick County, also has said it is open to discussing other partnership models besides an acquisition.
 
Here are some of the areas discussed during their presentation Wednesday:
 
On UNC: In his opening remarks Armato referenced a recent letter of intent that Novant signed with UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine.
Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health and dean of UNC School of Medicine, detailed the proposed partnership during Wednesday’s talk. UNC Health also initially submitted a proposal to NHRMC, not for a purchase or ownership option, but to expand its role with New Hanover Regional.
Burks said Wednesday that the plan with Novant Health would include training more medical students and health professionals at NHRMC by expanding the existing branch at New Hanover Regional of the medical school to 60 students. He said they want to develop a UNC Health Sciences Campus with other schools such as pharmacy, dental and allied health. Burks also said UNC Health was committed to expanding clinical trial enrollment for local residents and creating a regional pediatric referral center at NHRMC.
“Why is this partnership important?” he said. “We think it will enhance the care and the quality of life for the people there in collaboration with you.”
 
On physicians: Pam Oliver, an OB/GYN physician and president of the Novant Health Physician Network, also pointed to the system’s relationships with independent physicians – 60% of the medical staff at its hospitals are independent. “We recognize there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to partnering physicians,” Oliver said. “So we’ve developed a menu of options for our partners, whether it’s just access to facilitating our electronic medical record so we can coordinate patient care better all the way through partnering with a clinically integrated network and payer products where we can deliver the highest quality care at the lowest cost.”
           
On charity care: Novant Health provided $153 million in charity care last year and has proposed to increase NHRMC’s charity care program from 200% to 300% of the federal poverty level. “If you look at our financial assistance policies – one of the most remarkable in health care – anyone at or below 300% of the federal poverty level does not get a bill from Novant Health,” Armato said.
 
On health equity: Novant Health executives spent a sizable portion of their hour focusing on the issue of health equity. NHRMC has said its existing health equity program is limited in both scale and funding, and its goal is to have a full-scale health equity program with broader offerings, especially as the hospital takes on more clinical and financial risk to keep the overall population healthy. Tanya Blackmon, executive vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, said Novant Health has been “actively embedding diversity and inclusion for a number of years.” “In 2016, [Armato], who also I call our chief diversity inclusion officer signed a pledge with the American Hospital Association to eliminate health care disparities,” she added. “That’s why diversity inclusion and equity together is a real priority for Novant Health.”
 
Click here for Novant Health’s presentation slides.



Atrium Health’s presentation 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday also will be livestreamed so the public can watch on NHCTV.com or on NHCTV cable stations (Channel 13 on Spectrum and Channel 5 on Charter). The Business Journal will post a recap of that Thursday evening.
 
The proposal documents are online at nhrmcfuture.org/submit­ted-proposals.

For a roundup from the Business Journal on the proposals, including links to video interviews with representatives of the three health systems, click here.
 
For a recent BizTalk interview with Shelbourn Stevens, president and COO of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, click here.
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