As with any growth spurt, there are inevitably growing pains. The greater Wilmington-area is no exception.
Over the last decade, the Wilmington metro area has consistently ranked among the fastest-growing regions in the Southeastern United States. Quality of life is one of the main factors contributing to the population boom.
As we welcome more people into our community with open arms, one of the greatest challenges is preserving our excellent quality of life. Essential to this is access to high-quality, affordable and equitable health care. This could soon be at risk if we don’t act now.
Just as our rapid population growth has required planning for new schools and improved roads, we must also plan for the future health of our community.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) is one of our greatest community assets, but it does not have the resources needed to continue serving our rapidly growing population in the future. NHRMC will need more resources. Resources to invest in people, technology and services to improve the overall health of our community and lower the cost of care.
NHRMC is currently the largest county-owned health system in the country to receive no local tax support. As a county-owned health system, it has limitations on growth and lacks the financial strength to make needed investments, while also adapting to the rapidly-changing health care industry.
Thankfully, 21 members of our community with diverse backgrounds and perspectives have worked diligently as part of the NHRMC Partnership Advisory Group to provide recommendations on the future of health care in our region. Through dozens of community meetings, research and site visits, the group has worked to evaluate how NHRMC could best serve the community into the future. After weighing all options, the Partnership Advisory Group unanimously recommended NHRMC negotiate a strategic partnership with Novant Health and UNC Health.
We commend New Hanover County Commissioners for their foresight and leadership voting in favor of the PAG recommendation on Novant Health. This alliance will enable our health care system to meet the needs of our growing population and greatly improve our quality of life.
Novant and UNC Health have the resources, data systems and infrastructure to offer more convenient and cost-effective options that will improve care and make it more affordable. The partnership will also protect taxpayers from potential financial hardships that could arise if NHRMC remains independent and county owned.
In addition to the transformative health benefits, our local economy stands to gain as NHRMC is the region’s largest employer and is poised to grow under the new partnership. Novant Health has committed to retaining staff and growing the number of jobs in the region through expanded services and support for recruitment efforts. Additionally, $2.5 billion would be injected into the local economy for capital improvements and new services.
As we continue to work together to accommodate our rapid growth, alleviate growing pains and maintain our excellent quality of life, we applaud New Hanover County Commissioners and the Partnership Advisory Group. There are still many details to work out as all parties finalize this partnership, but the thoughtful leadership of Commissioners Barfield, Kusek, Olson-Boseman and White has brought us closer to securing a healthier future for generations to come.
Cameron Management, Inc.
Chris Boney, AIA
Chief Relationships Officer
Coastal Beverage Company