NHC Commissioners Vote To Move Forward With Novant Health

Jul 13, 2020

With a 4 – 1 vote, New Hanover County Commissioners voted to approve a letter of intent to sell New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health. 

It was no surprise that commissioners voted to accept the Partnership Advisory Group’s recommendation: To begin legally binding negotiations to sell the hospital to Novant Health.  

Commission Chair Julia Olson-Boseman.

“So today I will be voting to move forward with this recommendation and negotiate a definitive agreement with Novant Health, UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine, I'll be voting to move forward so that the possibilities and the opportunities that this will bring to our community and to our residents can be achieved.”

She said it is the right fit.

“They are committed to quality and value and have nationally recognized programs that improve health equity. Their culture fits ours. They are committed to our hospital staff and providers, and they're bringing with them UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine, which is an incredible opportunity for us.”

The vote was not unanimous. Rob Zapple opposed the move, expressing concern about the terms of the agreement.

“Now, my opposition to this resolution is with the approving of the Letter of Intent. It's a critical document attached to this resolution. This document spells out the financial deal and informs our County, what is included with a full sale of our hospital and both financial and practical terms.”

Zapple also said the process is moving too fast, that he only got the Letter of Intent last Friday. He says he didn’t realize until then that they would be voting at this meeting on the letter.  He’s worried about how the money will be spent. 

“I have serious questions about some of the basic tenants of this agreement and the plan on where the money from the proceeds will go and how it will be spent.”

Other commissioners did not share his concern.

Commissioner Pat Kusek:

“So for these reasons, I'd like to make a motion to approve the LOI and the accompanying Exhibit D - use of net transaction proceeds between the County, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, and Novant Health to authorize development of a definitive agreement for board consideration in September or October, 2020, that is inclusive of all items addressed during this presentation and Exhibit D.”

Exhibit D. That’s the document that spells out how the proceeds  from the sale will be spent. County Manager Chris Coudriet.

“And it's very clearly written for a purpose into the letter of intent Exhibit D that those funds should be managed in a way that is sacred. And in perpetuity for this community.”

Under the proposed sale agreement, Novant Health will pay $1.5 billion at closing, contribute $50 million to the existing NHMRC Foundation, and combine the Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center with NHRMC’s operations. They will also spend $600 million on capital expenses over the next decade and commit $2.5 billion for strategic capital projects.

Also yesterday, Commissioner Jonathan Barfield made a motion to rename Hugh MacRae park “Long Leaf Park.” The motion passed, 3-2.

In addition commissioners adopted a resolution declaring racism in the county to be a public health crisis.

Vince Winkel, WHQR News.