NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The debate intensifies over the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center. A new organization is taking a stand and not budging.
Save Our Hospital, Inc. announced its formation Wednesday.
“The county and the hospital do not seem to care that the hospital is owned by the people of New Hanover County,” the new non-profit corporation’s president Gene Merritt said.
Merritt says the hospital is owned by the people of New Hanover County, so they should have a say in its future.
“It makes no sense to sell this hospital at this time,” Alex Hall, who is part of the organization, said. “You can milk a cow a thousand times, but you can’t butcher it but once.”
Members of Save Our Hospital, Inc. gathered in downtown Wilmington to show their opposition for a possible sale of the hospital.
“We believe the efforts to date to sell our hospital have been secretive, non-communicative and non-inclusive,” Merritt said.
Merritt says the organization’s main goal is to protect the affordable, high-quality health care the hospital provides. If it’s sold, the group worries that could change.
“We believe that NHRMC, a financially viable institution, is fully capable of managing its own future without selling out or obtaining a partner,” Merritt said.
The co-chair of the Partnership Advisory Group, which was created to the explore the potential sale of the hospital, was at this announcement.
Co-Chair Spence Broadhurst says any information they can use is great.
“We want to do this right,” Broadhurst said. “I think I feel comfortable speaking for all 21 members that is the commitment we have. We’re making that commitment based on the good of the citizens. We are focused on what is the best for this community.”
Broadhurst welcomes involvement from all members of the community.
“There is no “we” and “they in this,” he said. “It’s all our community. They have the same goal that we do.”
Merritt is confident in the PAG’s attitude to reach that common goal.
“I hope in the final analysis we can all come back together with our hands together and say, ‘Hey, we did what’s right for the people of southeastern North Carolina.'”
NHRMC released a statement in response to the formation of Save Our Hospital, Inc.:
“On Monday, an announcement was made that a new corporation is being formed for the sole purpose of opposing a public evaluation of all options for strengthening health care in this region.
Organized opposition to any form of potential partnership or affiliation, without knowledge of what it could bring to this region, threatens to overshadow and minimize the critical work being done by a group of citizens who have volunteered their time to carefully explore how to support NHRMC in fulfillment of its mission.
The 21-member Partnership Advisory Group, with representatives from across our community, has just begun its work to understand the issues at stake in this important question. No proposals have been solicited or received to provide a basis for assuming the right course of action.
We urge all members of the community to refrain from a rush to judgment and allow the Partnership Advisory Group to do its work, evaluating all options, considering all facts, and making a recommendation for the NHRMC Board of Trustees, New Hanover County Commissioners, and public to review and thoughtfully consider, with an open mind and a determination to do what is right.”
The PAG is holding another meeting Wednesday night. WWAY will have more on that meeting.