NHRMC medical staff asks county to delay vote on potential hospital sale

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Medical staff at New Hanover Regional Medical Center want county commissioners to hold off on their vote to explore the sale of the hospital.

Dr. William Hope, who is President of Medical Staff at NHRMC, sent a letter to New Hanover County Commissioners  asking them to meet with medical staff representatives for an exchange of ideas and questions before commissioners vote on September 3.

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“The number one thing was that the physicians wanted to be educated and to learn about this, and that really was the impetus behind the vote,” Hope said. “It was a majority vote of those 105 physicians of, ‘Is there a way we could talk to the county commissioners about delaying the vote?'”

Hope asked commissioners to delay this vote because a lot of his staff felt like they still need to learn more.

“I’ve heard a bunch of different views,” Hope said. “I’ve heard a lot of ideas. I’ve heard a lot of misinformation. I’ve heard some great ideas from some physicians.”



The letter also stated a majority of medical staff voted in favor of asking commissioners to delay their vote for up to 90 days so staff and the community can learn more about the ramifications of a potential sale.

“His reasoning I found totally reasonable and I agreed with it,” County Commissioner Rob Zapple said. “Which is they want to educate themselves, the doctors and physicians, as well as the entire community. I think that’s a smart way to go about it.”

Just days after news broke that the county was exploring the idea of selling NHRMC, Dr. Hope spoke with WWAY and was open to the idea.

“I think the idea that our hospital will continue on as a county-owned hospital that doesn’t receive tax dollars for the long run in the next 10 years is probably not something that is sustainable, with all of the things that are happening in health care,” said Dr. William Hope in a previous interview.

County Commissioner Woody White says he does not agree with delaying the vote. He says he is, however, happy to meet with medical staff.

The decision on whether to consider new ownership comes as changes in the healthcare industry are leading more health systems to explore creative solutions. If sold, the hospital could become privately owned.

NHRMC is the largest independent hospital in North Carolina and the third largest in the entire country, County Manager Chris Coudriet said when news broke about exploring the idea of a sale.

Coudriet released the following statement regarding the Medical Staff’s request to delay the vote.

“From a staff perspective, we will continue to proceed with the item on September 3, since it has already been noticed to the public in accordance with general statutes. The agenda item is not a decision to sell – it is to authorize staff to send out a request for proposals and begin the research and exploration process. Any and all decisions, even a decision to delay, have and remain the responsibility of the Board of Commissioners.”

Whatever happens, Hope says his staff wants to be heard.

“You know again, physicians felt rushed,” Hope said. “I think many of them wanted to be educated before they make decisions, and really again, I keep harping on this, but they want a voice in this in some way.”

NHRMC and county leaders will host two forums next week before commissioners vote.

The first one is being held Monday at the Northeast Regional Library at 6 p.m. The second meeting is on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at the Senior Resource Center.