NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Just days before New Hanover County commissioners vote on whether to continue exploring selling New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the community got a chance to voice their opinions again.
It was a highly emotional evening Wednesday. Nearly a hundred people showed up with a variety of questions and concerns.
NHRMC’s CEO John Gizdic says everyone just seems to want the same thing – the best possible hospital that we can have.
Now, just days away from the the county’s vote, Commissioner Rob Zapple is not sold on the idea of selling the hospital.
“I don’t know that we’ll get any kind of that stability,” Zapple said. “I don’t believe it. There’s nothing to say that in two or three years, as you heard tonight, that whatever company buys it, they turn around and sell it to another person.”
Dozens of others echoed Zapple’s opinion at the community forum. Residents continued to question Gizdic and County Manager Chris Coudriet.
Gizdic says that while the hospital is financially stable right now, it may not always be the case.
“For our 2020 budget, we have a capital plan of about $137 million just for that year alone,” Gizdic said. “When you look at the funds we’ve been able to generate in the past year, it’s about $100 million. Thus, the need to actually dip into the savings account for the first time in the 15 years I’ve been here.”
Gizdic says you can only dip into savings so much and it’s something to consider as the community grows.
“As we look out into the future, we do see the need to probably dip into that savings account more frequently, which is not something that we want to have to do,” Gizdic said. “Thus, exploring options and partnerships now to see if we can stabilize that and continue to invest in growth.”
For now, Zapple thinks things are moving too fast. He wants to see the vote delayed for 90 days to gather more facts.
“I think it’s an appropriate and a reasonable request,” Zapple said. “Especially after hearing how much uncertainty in this community, it has really unleashed a real conversation.”
Commissioners will vote on Tuesday on that Resolution of Intent to Sell NHRMC. This is not a vote on whether to actually sell the hospital.
Click here to read the full resolution.