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Hospital Trustees Back Novant For Negotiations; Outline Possible Spending Plan

By Vicky Janowski, posted Jul 7, 2020
After talking for nearly three hours in closed session, the NHRMC Board of Trustees on Tuesday night voted to negotiate with Novant Health on a potential deal for New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
 
The approved resolution also for the first time publicly outlines how the county’s proceeds from a sale of the hospital might be spent.
 
The 16-1 vote, with hospital trustee Rod Andrew voting against, clears another hurdle for negotiations on a possible sale to Novant.
 
On Thursday, the Partnership Advisory Group recommended Novant out of a short list of health systems that had offered to buy the county-owned hospital.
 
Winston-Salem-based Novant, which offered nearly $2 billion to New Hanover County to acquire the hospital and make it a Southeastern North Carolina hub for the nonprofit system, rose to the top of three health systems the advisory group has been meeting with in recent weeks. Atrium Health and Duke Health were the other two involved in recent talks that showed interest in buying the county-owned NHRMC.

Novant also has offered $3.1 billion to fund NHRMC’s routine and strategic capital needs in the years ahead.
 
County commissioners, who meet Monday, have to give the final backing before a letter of intent can be executed with Novant and negotiations on a definitive agreement can start. The commissioners and hospital trustees would have to sign off on any final deal, a vote that officials have said could happen by September or October. The public would be able to see the proposed deal, and another public hearing would be required.
 
The hospital trustees Tuesday approved a resolution that not only adds their backing to the talks with Novant, but it also details how the $1.9 billion in potential proceeds to the county could be spent. (Click here to read the resolution.)
 
The proceeds could “will result in significant net dollars available to fund certain initial allocations to NHRMC and the County, as well as a newly established public-benefit foundation to be formed and established by the County (the ‘Foundation’),” the resolution stated.
 
Those proposed spending items, developed with input from county officials, include $300 million for a county revenue stabilization fund to protect against budget downturns and $50 million for a mental and behavioral health fund. The proposed foundation could use $1.25 billion to address issues such as health and social equity; public primary, secondary and post-secondary education; community development; and community safety, according to the resolution.
 
About $300 million of the sale proceeds could be used to help those in NHRMC’s existing pension plan make the transition to Novant’s retirement benefits plan.
 
“Our Commissioners and NHRMC leaders told us very clearly that they want any change to be good for the team currently working at New Hanover Regional Medical Center,” Jason Thompson, chairman of the NHRMC Board of Trustees, said in a news release after the meeting. “This is one of the ways we can both recognize their great work and show how much we want them to continue with us.”
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