One more hospital hurdle cleared
One of three final hurdles to selling Haywood Regional Medical Center to Duke LifePoint Healthcare was cleared Monday when the county commissioners signed off on the agreement.
The deal will go before the Haywood Regional Medical Center Board of Commissioners at 6 p.m. Thursday, and once N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper approves an agreement between Duke LifePoint and WestCare, the long anticipated sales can be completed.
Details are unknown concerning the sale of WestCare facilities in Jackson and Swain counties, but the Haywood medical facilities agreement is a public document because the hospital operated as a public nonprofit organization.
Duke LifePoint Healthcare has processes in place to ensure a smooth transition, David Dill, president and chief operating officer of LifePoint Hospitals, told the county commissioners Monday evening, and is committed to continuing core services, the county’s indigent policy and investing capital in the community to grow services.
The hospital will become a taxpayer in the community, including paying property, income and sales taxes.
The negotiated sales price for the Haywood Regional Medical Center Hospital and associated facilities is $29.1 million, but many expenses and the hospital authority’s unpaid debt must be covered by that amount.
The commissioners had few questions for the hospital executives at the meeting.
“It’s not that we aren’t interested, but we’ve been at this a long time in many work sessions and many meetings,” said Commission Chairman Mark Swanger.
Here’s what key players at Monday’s meeting had to say about the agreement.
David Dill, president and chief operating officer of LifePoint Hospitals
“We are a for-profit company, but have never have paid dividends. Our investors believe the best way to enhance long-term value is to invest proceeds in our communities to grow and expand.”
Dr. Harry Phillips, chief medical officer, Duke Medicine
“We have a track record of elevating patient safety and quality. We reduced harms in our hospitals by over 40 percent. … We will bring a quality program to your hospital. We recognize employees as a valuable asset and want to continue to advance Haywood Regional’s status as an employer of choice.
Jeff Seraphine, president, Eastern Group, LifePoint Hospitals
“We will be working with your hospital to mirror what is happening in Haywood with best processes all across the country. We have 450 people at our hospital support center and 50 to 60 at Duke looking at what is happening in Haywood — how can we add value and help you achieve your vision for health care.”
Commission Vice Chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick
“I appreciate all you have done. I was out there the night of the fire. I was impressed with what our administrators did and what the county folks did that night. I appreciate Duke LifePoint providing support and that you continued staying involved with the purchase despite this.”
Commissioner Michael Sorrells
“This has been a long process and it an exciting time for Haywood County. It has been a struggle for several years for our hospital and this is a wonderful opportunity.”
Commissioner Bill Upton
“I’ve looked at a lot of documents but have never looked at one as thorough as this one.”
Commissioner Kevin Ensley
“What interested me was the way the hospital came about. The county stood behind the bonds but never paid any taxes for it.”