The Partnership Advisory Group voted unanimously on Thursday night to recommend Novant Health as the best choice for the future of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center. If the hospital Trustees and the Board of Commissioners approve, negotiations will begin on the terms of the sale.
When the Partnership Advisory Group started meeting last year its 21 members had differing opinions on what the future might look like for New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
“I was opposed to any change. I thought the hospital would be just fine on its own. I was a skeptic but I cared deeply about the community.”
That’s PAG member Hannah Dawson Gage. She favored the status quo when the process began.
“And the more I learned, the more I concluded independently, that what it took to get us where we are today is simply not going to be enough to take us where we want to go in the future. The area is growing too fast. It's going to require more resources than we have to provide the services and to provide a quality health care. And, even if we reorganize and became a system or if we reorganized and became a hospital authority, my conclusion was that that will push the challenge further down the road, but that ultimately we would be confronting the same thing.”
Gage admits that when the PAG began meeting, she was no expert on healthcare policy and management. But through all the homework assignments, presentations and conversations over the last nine months with advisory group members, she says she’s learned. And now sees things differently.
“There is no guarantee that we'll be in this luxurious position five years from now. So it seemed to me that once I realized that the challenge of resources was not going away, it would only get greater. And then as I developed a better understanding of the model for healthcare in the future, it's completely different than what you and I are familiar with.”
Gage says that hospitals in the future will be different.
“The hospital is not at the center. You know, the patient is going to be at the center of that model and it's going to take an enormous investment in technology and analytics and systems and expertise and things that in tools that we simply don't have.”
Evelyn Bryant was also skeptical when the process began.
“Well in the beginning I did have some fears and, my thought process was I don't want to see the hospital sold to an outside entity because I believe we live in a unique community, but from then, until now, I really believe that the process has taught me a whole lot. It has helped me to understand that we do live in a unique community. And with that uniqueness, we should be mindful of the things that we've been able to achieve and the possibilities of where we can go for a future.”
The Wilmington native says selling the hospital is the best way to grow.
“I'm very much in favor of moving forward with a partnership. I think that if we don't move forward with a partnership, then we are going to be at a loss. Our future will be bleak and, I don't know how we would be able to survive from it. I'm very hopeful that as we move forward, we do move into a partnership and I'm hoping that the community will also understand and see that we are in need of this. And it will be very valuable to what we have going on now.”
The county commission will have the final say on whether or not to sell. Vince Winkel, WHQR News.