Commissioners approve resolution of intent to sell NHRMC


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — In a vote of 3-2, in front of a packed crowd, New Hanover County commissioners voted in support of a resolution of intent to sell New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

It’s been the vote that the community has been waiting for.

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“The verbiage they have used is that it’s already a decision that they have made,” Marcia Morgan, who rallied asking commissioners to delay the vote, said. “Not one that’s pending. It’s kind of like, ‘When we sell the hospital.’ Not ‘If.'”

Commissioner Rob Zapple requested that the vote be delayed because he thought the vote was being rushed, while Commissioner Jonathan Barfield raised concerns about the quality of health care after a hospital is bought by a larger entity.

“What I’ve heard resounding in this community, is that this is not the time to move forward with this initiative,” Barfield said.

Booing could be heard in the audience when Commissioner Pat Kusek said selling the hospital and doing nothing are bookends because there are a lot of other options in between.

“It’s irresponsible to do nothing,” Kusek said. “We have to be proactive to ensure that health care remains strong in New Hanover County, and we have the opportunity to do that now.”

Kusek, Julia Boseman and Woody White were all in favor of the resolution.

If the hospital is sold, many protesters are worried about the access to health care changing and costs going up. Many of them rallied right before the meeting, asking commissioners to “Vote no, go slow.”

Sen. Harper Peterson filed a complaint with Attorney General Josh Stein earlier Monday. In the complaint he said commissioners failed to fully inform and engage the citizens of New Hanover County.

He also asked, what’s the rush?

“Nothing had occurred prior to July 23 in terms of engaging outside third-party health agencies, that is untrue,” Peterson said. “Now we know it’s untrue. What else? These are public records that need to be exposed Any meetings they had, any conversations between the hospital and the county government, between the county and their consultants.”

At the meeting Monday night, Commissioner Woody White responded to those comments.

“The completely false allegation from some people that the deal is in, that there have been things done behind the scenes is an outrage,” White said. “It’s insulting to me.”

As for hospital CEO John Gizdic, he encourages the community to stay involved.

Now that the resolution was approved, the next step is the Request for Proposals process. An advisory committee will also be formed to create the RFP and to go through the proposals.

As for hospital CEO John Gizdic, he encourages the community to stay involved.

“We want to make sure we’ve got representatives from the medical community,” Gizdic said. “Physicians and others. As well as community leaders, non-profit leaders, business leaders and other leader in the community.”

The advisory committee will then advise the county on the best course of action for NHRMC.

Regardless of whether the county and the hospital decided to sell it, Kusek says it’s their responsibility to explore their options.

“The conversation is happening now because the hospital’s leadership has determined that now is the time,” Kusek said. “If we don’t learn now what other entities might provide for our community, then we might wish we had done so in five to 10 years.”