It's official: Duke LifePoint becomes new hospital owner

By Vicki Hyatt | Aug 03, 2014
In with the new — Hospital officials wasted no time erecting a new sign replacing MedWest Haywood with Haywood Regional Medical Center.

Within 24 hours of assuming ownership of the hospital and related medical facilities in Haywood County, Duke LifePoint Healthcare changed the signs.

Those entering the hospital's main campus now see a bright blue Haywood Regional Medical Center sign where the MedWest-Haywood used to be, and signs elsewhere were changed as well.

When the medical facilities in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties that had affiliated to form MedWest in 2009 began a search for a capital partner last summer, the Duke LifePoint offer was ultimately selected. On Aug. 1, the company took over the 169-bed medical center and its affiliated assets in a deal that promises an investment of at least $36 million in capital improvements at Haywood facilities over the next eight years.

The sale contract promises resources to help enhance and expand medical services in the county.

“As part of Duke LifePoint, Haywood Regional will be better able to meet the changing needs of our community,” said Frank Powers, chairman of the Haywood Regional Board of Trustees. “We are delighted to finalize this acquisition and begin our collaboration with Duke LifePoint to improve the health and wellbeing of people throughout this region, create new opportunities for our staff and physicians and strengthen our medical center for the future ahead.”

Carolinas HealthCare System’s management contract for MedWest ceased when the sale became final.

John Young, vice president for the western division of Carolinas HealthCare System, spent a lot of time in the region, even serving as the Haywood interim CEO after Michael Poore stepped down and Janie Sinacore-Jaberg was hired.

“I think this is a perfect solution for all three hospitals,” Young said of the sale. “Duke LifePoint is a class act, and their business model is investing capital. Ours wasn’t and there was not enough capital for the three hospitals to do what they needed to do. The organizations are now positioned to live the future they deserve.”

When MedWest was formed and chose Carolinas HealthCare System to manage the system, the board’s goal was to retain ownership and local autonomy.

“We tried to offer scale and scope to get costs down and grow the volume so the hospitals could build their own capital,” Young said, “but we were so close to the edge from the very beginning, we could never get ahead enough to do that. With the Duke LifePoint model where they commit to capital, it will be a different day for those three hospitals.”

Young had high praise for the hospital staff and leadership, and said the sale was bittersweet for him in that he enjoyed his time in the mountains getting to know the communities and the people here.

“It was an honor for us to be with them,” he said. “Now they will have the capital wind in their sails to really get the outcomes they deserve as an organization and as a medical staff. With a little investment, these hospitals will be fine.”

“Duke LifePoint is honored to welcome Haywood Regional to our system,” said LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William F. Carpenter III. “The physicians and staff at Haywood Regional have shown inspiring dedication and commitment to their patients and community. We look forward to working with them to build on the great tradition of care that exists here and transform health care delivery in Clyde and beyond.”

As part of Duke LifePoint, Haywood Regional will support its local economy by becoming a local taxpayer. A local board of trustees will be established to ensure a strong community voice in Haywood Regional’s long-term strategic direction.

“Haywood Regional has played a central role in the health care infrastructure of Haywood County for nearly 90 years,” said William J. Fulkerson, Jr., MD, executive vice president of Duke University Health System. “The Duke LifePoint team is pleased to partner with the medical staff and employees to further strengthen Haywood Regional’s ability to advance health care throughout this region.”

Duke LifePoint’s acquisition of Haywood Regional was approved by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners and the local Hospital Authority Board.

Mark Clasby, who served as MedWest board chairman when the organization was first formed, and was the most recent chairman, said he was pleased with the Duke LifePoint acquisition.

"This is a historic day for these high-quality healthcare institutions," he said. "Duke LifePoint is an organization that brings clinical expertise, capital investment commitments, and a strong track record of integrating its affiliated hospitals. The healthcare needs of Western North Carolina will be well served by Duke LifePoint’s presence, and I welcome the Duke LifePoint team to our communities.

"I want to express my deepest appreciation to the physicians, clinicians and hundreds of staff members serving Haywood and WestCare Health System, who persevered through some difficult times, never failing to provide extraordinary care to all of the patients served by our facilities. It has been a privilege to represent these outstanding individuals as a board chair. I feel grateful and honored that all of them have chosen to fulfill their calling in Western North Carolina.

The integration agreement between Haywood Regional Medical Center and WestCare Health System, which formed MedWest, concluded effective Aug. 1.  Also effective today, the Management Services Agreement between MedWest Health System and Carolinas HealthCare System concludes.

"I would like to thank the management of Carolinas HealthCare System for their service to our organizations, and for their dedication to the healthcare needs of the people in all of our communities," he said.


About Haywood Regional Medical Center

Created in 1927, Haywood Regional was the first county hospital in North Carolina. It offers a comprehensive array of services, including orthopedics, spine services, cardiology, general surgery, women's care, emergency medicine and behavioral health.

In addition to its medical center, its campus is home to a health and fitness center, the Haywood Outpatient Care Center, and The Homestead, an inpatient hospice facility. Haywood Regional also operates two urgent care centers located in Hazelwood and Canton.

Haywood Regional Medical Center provides high-quality health care for the people of Haywood County, North Carolina and surrounding communities. Offering over twenty-three specialties, a health and fitness center, an outpatient care center, eight physician clinics and a hospice and palliative care facility, Haywood Regional Medical Center works to improve life in the communities we serve.


About Duke LifePoint Healthcare

Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System, Inc., and LifePoint Hospitals® (NASDAQ: LPNT), was established to build a dynamic network of hospitals and health care providers. The joint venture, which brings together LifePoint's experience in community-based hospital management and Duke's world-renowned leadership in clinical service, is strengthening and improving health care delivery by providing community hospitals the clinical, quality and operational resources they need to grow and prosper. For additional information, visit