Public Hearing On NHRMC Sale Packed With PAG Members, Hospital Employees In Support Of Sale
New Hanover County Commissioners vote October 5th on whether to approve the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health. In advance of that vote, the county held a public hearing last night at the New Hanover County Courthouse to allow residents to voice their opinions about the sale.
Seventeen people showed up to speak.
Thirteen of the seventeen speakers expressed support for the sale. And most of them – eleven, to be exact, are employees of NHRMC, Novant Health, and / or members of the Partnership Advisory Group.
The other two: a cardiologist with Cape Fear Heart Associates and the President of Wilmington’s Chamber of Commerce.
Scott Whisnant is NHRMC’s Administrator of Community Relations.
"Standing still and clinging to a romanticized past and present will lead to predictable results. You cannot walk away from $40-60 million a year properly endowed, properly organized and properly managed…There’s a quote attributed to Henry Ford, who said, ‘If I’d asked people what they wanted, I would have given them faster horses.’"
Four speakers opposed the sale or expressed concern about the structure of the community foundation, with one pointing out the public hearing falls on the holiest day of the year in Judaism – Yom Kippur.
North Carolina Senator Harper Peterson, after noting that local citizens created NHRMC 53 years ago and should have the right to vote on its future, kept his criticism confined to the community foundation – which will manage the $1.25 billion in sale proceeds.
"It is onerous enough that the new foundation will not be honoring open meetings or open records laws but will now have unrestricted control over how the public’s money is spent.
"The Attorney General's Counsel has clearly stated to the county and the hospital that the definitive documents for the hospital require notice and review before a sale is consummated. Your legal counsel again disagrees. Are you prepared to contest the Attorney General of North Carolina, as well? Is it the intent of the county to continue with this sale regardless? Are we facing legal action at the taxpayers’ expense? What's the rush?"
17 people submitted written comments. Five voiced hard opposition to the sale, four asked for a delay or answers to, as yet, unanswered questions, and eight offered their support.