NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The citizen-led Partnership Advisory Group considering options for the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center has paused its formal meeting schedule and evaluation process.
The county says this will allow members of the team more time to focus on the response to COVID-19 and the care of area patients.
The Partnership Advisory Group includes five members of the NHRMC Medical Staff who, along with the staff of NHRMC and New Hanover County, have been working through preparations and procedures to limit the spread and impact of COVID-19 in our community.
“While the risk posed by COVID-19 underscores the urgency of looking to the future and being prepared, we want our medical team involved in the evaluation process and it’s not something they can give their attention to right now,” said Barb Biehner, Co-Chair of the Partnership Advisory Group and member of the NHRMC Board of Trustees. “We’re going to continue to be flexible in how we move forward so we’re doing what’s right for our community.”
The Partnership Advisory Group issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in January. Six organizations responded with proposals by the deadline on March 16. Those six organizations are Atrium Health, Bon Secours Mercy Health, Duke Health, HCA Healthcare, Novant Health and UNC Health.
The original review schedule included meetings of the Partnership Advisory Group on March 19, March 26 and April 2. Those three meetings have been canceled. Subsequent meeting schedules and formats will be evaluated in the coming weeks.
The planned March 30 public release of the proposals will be delayed at least two weeks to allow members of the Partnership Advisory Group time to review the responses and ask clarifying questions before the proposals are posted for the public.
“Our intent is to resume the public review process as soon as we are able,” said Spence Broadhurst, Partnership Advisory Group co-chair. “While concerns about Coronavirus may keep us from holding in-person, public group meetings for the near future, we’ll do everything we can to ensure our community has easy access to the materials and open sessions so they can continue to be involved. We are committed to ensuring the public is informed and engaged when we begin meeting again.”
New Hanover County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposals before any final decisions are made. A hearing originally planned for April 13 will be postponed. The new date for that hearing will be announced in the coming months.
NHRMC President and CEO John Gizdic will hold forums for employees and providers after the proposals are released to share information and answer questions specific to staff and the extended NHRMC team. Those forums may be virtual depending on what meeting restrictions are still in place.
“We know there’s a lot of interest in what is in the proposals and how they may impact our future,” said Gizdic. “We also know our team is focused right now on our response to COVID-19. When we get past the urgent needs of our current situation, we can take more time to share information about our options and how they might help us get to a more secure future.”
Information about the Partnership Advisory Group, its meeting schedule, the RFP and all past presentations and articles can be found at www.nhrmcfuture.org.