Hospital agreement made public

By Vicki Hyatt | Dec 17, 2013
Frank Powers, chairman of Haywood Regional Medical Center board of commissioners.

A document outlining the basic tenets of the Haywood Regional Medical Center sale to Duke LifePoint HealthCare and Haywood Regional Medical Center was released Monday.

The memorandum of understanding was made available shortly before the public hearing at the Haywood County Commissioners meeting. While there was well more than 100 people at the public hearing held by the hospital trustees, Laura Leatherwood, chairman of the Haywood Regional Medical Center Foundation, was the lone speaker at the county’ hearing.

The foundation's 6,000 donors who raised more than $14 million for the hospital since its inception shows strong support for quality medical care right here at home, she said as she encouraged the commissioners to proceed with the sale.

The county has reverter rights to the hospital property under the hospital authority formed in 1997. Under state law, the county and the hospital board must each hold three public hearings before the property can be sold.

The sale ideally will occur on or before March 31, 2014, but in no case later than May 31, 2014.

While a definitive agreement will include the exact terms of the sale, the memorandum of understanding outlines the basic starting points. They state, in part:

• hospital operations will continue;

• the $26.25 million sales proceeds for the hospital and associated holdings will be used to pay debt and then be held by Haywood County to be used first to satisfy any outstanding obligations such as those that could arise from lawsuits, etc.

• none of the net proceeds shall be transferred to the Haywood Regional Medical Center Foundation, Inc. a nonprofit organization that was set up to benefit the public, nonprofit hospital. Because Duke LifePoint Healthcare is a forprofit company, the foundation be continued in its current form. The MOU states upon dissolution, net proceeds go to Haywood County.

• all employees meeting customary pre-employment screening will retain their jobs and be paid at a comparable level. Seniority will be honored.

• a minimum of $36 million will be spent within the next eight years on capital improvements.

• A local board of trustees will adopt a vision, mission and values statement, develop/review strategic plans, review capital and operating budgets, grant medical staff privilges, oversee state and quality issues and approve the selection of the CEO.

• The asset purchase agreement obligates Duke LifePoint to maintain a CEO, chief financial officer, chief nursing officer and director of information services at both HRMC and WestCare for a period of five years.

• The buyer will maintain the same level of indigent care subject to changes in law and the implications of healthcare reform.

• All core services and programs will continue for five years unless the local board approves the discontinuation.

• Medical staff members in good standing shall maintain hospital privileges though privileges can be suspended under the terms of the bylaws.

• Duke LifePoint will present its findings from the MedWest Physician Network review prior to closing and after closing, will work to establish a model that is more effective and better meets the needs of the hospitals acquired with the MedWest purchase.

While HRMC is just part of the MedWest holdings in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties to be acquired by Duke LifePoint, the basic acquisition terms are only available regarding Haywood since it is the only portion of the network that remains a public nonprofit organization. WestCare holdings are organized under private, nonprofit guidelines.

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