Six health systems – a mix of not-for-profit, for-profit and academic centers – are interested in New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
That’s how many organizations submitted proposals by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline in the process local officials are using to weigh NHRMC’s future. Details from the proposals are expected to be made public in the coming weeks.
Last summer, New Hanover County and NHRMC officials announced they would explore new options for the county-owned facility’s ownership or management structure. A request for proposals – approved by the 21-member Partnership Advisory Group – was issued in mid-January. While waiting for the proposal deadline, the group discussed other scenarios for the hospital outside of partnering or selling to an outside group, such as keeping its current structure or moving to a hospital authority model, as examples.
The six organizations that turned in proposals are:
• Atrium Health
, a Charlotte-based system, which while a not-for-profit is still the largest health care system in the Carolinas; it currently has a relationship with NHRMC through a contract to manage its physician group.
• Bon Secours Mercy Health
, a not-for-profit Catholic hospital system based in Cincinnati; It formed in 2018 as a merger between Bon Secours Health System and Mercy Health, becoming the fifth-largest Catholic health system in the country and among one of the nation’s 20 largest health care systems.
• Duke Health
, which covers the Duke University School of Medicine, Duke-NUS Medical School, Duke University School of Nursing, Duke University Health System and a physician practice organization; Its health system includes three hospitals, more than 200 clinics, clinical affiliate hospitals and community hospitals that are part of Duke Lifepoint.
• HCA Healthcare
, a for-profit system based in Tennessee that also is one of the largest health systems in the country with 184 hospitals and 2,000 sites of care; Last year it bought Asheville’s Mission Health for $1.5 billion.
• Novant Health
, a Winston-Salem-based system with 15 medical centers and more than 1,600 physicians; The not-for-profit system has a local presence with its 74-bed Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center in Bolivia and medical group.
• And UNC Health Care
, a not-for-profit system owned by the state of North Carolina that is the state’s largest academic health system with 11 hospitals, 350 clinics and 3,200 UNC Health physicians; NHRMC currently is affiliated with UNC’s medical school for residency programs, and in 2016 NHRMC became a branch campus of UNC’s medical school.
Three other systems – LifePoint Health, Optum and Trinity Health – had expressed interest in the RFP by signing a required non-disclosure but did not submit pitches.
Now that the proposals are in, the Partnership Advisory Group “will review them and ask clarifying questions,” according to a news release from the county and NHRMC.
“Once the proposals are finalized, they will be posted to NHRMCfuture.org
for public review. Information that meets legal requirements for protection will not be visible, but the public will have access to hundreds of pages of proposal responses,” the release stated.
Officials have previously said they were aiming for the end of March to publicly release the proposals. That has been delayed now for at least two weeks, officials said recently, because of the coronavirus situation.
The Partnership Advisory Group will make a recommendation to the county commissioners and NHRMC hospital trustees – groups that have the ultimate say if a deal is forged – about how to proceed, including whether to start negotiations with one or more of the health systems that submitted proposals.
The Partnership Advisory Group’s next meetings were previously scheduled to meet March 26 and April 2, but those have been postponed now.
The group is holding off on its formal meeting schedule and evaluation process "to allow members of the team more time to focus on the response to COVID-19 and the care of area patients. The Partnership Advisory Group includes five members of the NHRMC Medical Staff who, along with the staff of NHRMC and New Hanover County, have been working through preparations and procedures to limit the spread and impact of COVID-19 in our community," a news release stated.