MedWest CEO said hospital sale is progressing
During a community meeting last week, MedWest Haywood President and CEO Janie Sinacore-Jaberg shared changes and progress at the hospital.
But the question foremost on the minds of those at the meeting concerned the pending acquisition by Duke Lifepoint.
During the past several months, Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a private company, has been going through the process of purchasing MedWest, Sinacore-Jaberg said.
The hospitals are close to finishing up the due diligence stage of the process and are also working on definitive agreements, also known as the asset purchase agreement.
“We thought we’d be closed by the first quarter of 2014, but one of the requests of Duke Lifepoint is that we close at the same time,” she said, referencing DLP’s acquisition of hospital facilities in Jackson and Swain, as well as Haywood. “So to do that, we’re closing on three hospitals at the same time, which is a big thing to do.”
When definitive agreements are complete, they will move on to regulatory approvals, which will require a public hearing process with the Haywood County Commissioners and Attorney General approval for the Harris Regional acquisition.
“That process takes approximately 60 days. So that gives you a little bit of a time frame and that has not yet started. Once that’s done, we’ll close,” she said.
Once DukeLifepoint takes over, the hospital will continue to honor insurance policies as they currently do, she assured one concerned audience member.
“We will be managing this hospital locally with a local board with support from Duke LifePoint, that’s not to say they won’t give us their opinion, because they will and we want it. But I think it’s important for you to know that your community hospital is going to stay your community hospital,” Sinacore-Jaberg said.
At the beginning of the meeting, Sinacore-Jaberg collected feedback from the audience through an electronic survey. She then compared those answers to the feedback from last year’s community meetings, and she was happy with the results.
“Even though I was not thrilled with the results last year, I am just absolutely excited about the changes that we’ve made and the great growth and the great quality in safety and service that we’ve brought to your community hospital by having the team of people that we have,” she said.
The hospital has made several changes after listening to feedback from last year’s community meetings.
As the county’s third largest employer, MedWest Haywood employs 133 physicians with 27 specialties and 128 of whom are board-certified. They recently hired a new general surgeon, a sports medicine and orthopedic surgeon and a pulmonologist to their team of doctors.
The hospital also recently began offering a new innovative procedure to remove unsightly varicose veins and other vein problems.
“We just brought this based on what we heard from you all, which was that you wanted newer technology and more things come to your hospital,” said Sinacore-Jaberg.
Since last year, hospital staff has worked to make changes when it comes to the billing process and what they look like.
“Your bills, if you had one last year and if you have one now, should look very different,” she said, adding that there is a phone number answered by a real person included on the bill and they are mailed out in a more timely manner.
They have made changes internally to make scheduling appointments a quicker process as well as what they call the emergency room “door to doctor” time, which was improved by 40 percent. That simply means that those who go to the emergency room are seeing doctors quicker.
Former county manager Marty Stamey is now working with the hospital as governmental relations and is improving the hospital’s relationship with EMS and law enforcement agencies.
She said the hospital is also planning to be more community involved and bring more to the Health and Fitness Center. Some audience members requested to bring back a tai chi class, which was one of the classes cut several years ago. Sinacore-Jaberg promised to look into it.
“I’ve worked at a lot of big hospitals, I’ve never worked at one that had a health and fitness center. We are all about wellness, we’re all about the community and I think it’s very important that we showcase that,” she said.
With all of the changes, she said there is plenty more to be done.
“There are lots of things that we’ve changed. Is it where I want it to be? No, it is not. We’re not finished, we still have a way to go, but we’re getting there,” she said.
She urged the audience to continue to offer feedback to the hospital as the acquisition process continues and beyond.
Upcoming meetings set
• Thursday, May 1 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Town Hall in Maggie Valley
• Monday, May 5 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Colonial Theater Annex in Canton.