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00000177-efb4-dee4-afff-efbec58a0000Gathered below is WHQR's ongoing reporting and CoastLine coverage regarding NHRMC.

Partnership Advisory Group Pushes Forward On NHRMC's Future Options

Vince Winkel
The Partnership Advisory Group's 21 members at Wednesday night's meeting.

This week the Partnership Advisory Group – that’s the group in charge of exploring the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center – held its second public meeting. It was a class on the new landscape of the healthcare industry.

“Good evening everybody. We call to order, welcome. Everybody is here, pretty clear to me that we have quorum …” 

The 21-member Advisory Group meets at the county’s Government Center, every other week. At Wednesday’s meeting about 30 residents were in attendance.

The group has its work cut out for them.

“Right now, we're still laying the groundwork for all of it. We haven't even stepped into the whole process yet.

That’s Barbara Biehner, Co-Chair of the Advisory Group.

She says after a break for the holidays, it’s right back to work.

“I expect they'll resume for several months. We have a lot to do. The first discussion we'll have, along with everybody, is kind of learning the landscape of healthcare, and how it's changing is to look at an RFP, which is only one piece of what we're going to be doing. We're also going to be looking at what other options we have in New Hanover County, within the region. It doesn't have to be a sale, so we're looking at what other options we have.”

At this meeting, Navigant consultant David Burik lectures the group for over an hour on how people are now using outpatient services rather than inpatient care. He also says that as Baby Boomers age into Medicare, it will hit a hospital system’s bottom line.

He adds that the healthcare business is moving from one based on transactions to one based on outcomes, called a “value-based” system. That means the healthcare administration is responsible for creating a set reimbursement rate for each patient, and the hospital or doctor can concentrate on a patient’s well-being.

Steve Aiken of Wilmington is in the audience. He’s lived in Wilmington as long as there has been a county-owned medical center. He has nothing but praise for the healthcare system, which he has used a lot.

“Many times. I'm currently using it now for cancer treatment, and have been since last July.”

He remains skeptical of the process.

“I would have been a little more open minded about it. If the first thing out of some of our County Commissioners mouths, hadn't been just think what we can do with close to a billion dollars. That told me that their main focus was what they could do with the money from the potential sale of the hospital.”

He says he’s attending these public meetings with an open mind, to learn about all the future options for the medical center,

“And that scares me because I know what type facility we have here. My wife and I, she's used it twice for cancer treatments. We both had multiple surgeries here. We've had nothing but top quality care. It's a premier facility, and I hate to see those who, I believe their main focus is money for the county, take us down a wrong path.”

Hospital CEO John Gizdic also spoke for an hour.

“If you visited our hospital, and you were going to be admitted, there's a good chance you spent a few hours in a hallway …..” 

He reiterates the need to shift the business model to be ready for value-based care, and that future challenges for NHRMC include a national shortage of nurses and physicians, as well as new competitors entering the healthcare market, with substantial financial backing. He also says the population growth in southeastern North Carolina will present challenges for the healthcare system.

The Partnership Advisory Group meets again next Wednesday at 5:30, at Government Center. All meetings are open to the public. They are planning on several months of meetings into 2020.

Vince Winkel, WHQR News.