Atrium Health plays up existing relationship in proposal to partner with NHRMC

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Atrium Health presented its case to the Partnership Advisory Group to join forces with New Hanover Regional Medical Center Thursday night, the third and final organization to do so.

Atrium wanted to lay out what makes their organization different, what that means for NHRMC, and how the community would benefit.

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“We already know each other, and we know a lot about our cultures, and we think we’re just poised for the next step,” said Atrium executive vice president Carol Lovin.

Executives played up the existing relationship between their organization and NHRMC.

“We stood by you in your time of need,” said Atrium President and CEO Gene Woods. “We got a call during the COVID crisis from Dr. Hoffman and he said he was waiting sometimes six to nine days to get the results of COVID tests for his patients and he said ‘can you do something?’ So we sent a lab team there, because again, we have our own lab equipment.”

Atrium has had a management services agreement with NHRMC since 2009 and says it has saved the hospital $32 million since 2015. NHRMC President and CEO John Gizdic is also a former Atrium executive.

The not-for-profit is proposing a 40-year lease that would renew for an additional year every year beginning in year nine, so there would always be 30 years remaining on the lease.

“But at the end of the day, and oh by the way, you can choose to sell at any time,” Lovin said.

If the county did choose to sell at some point down the line, Atrium would have right of first refusal.

As part of the lease, the organization is offering $50 million in cash to the county upfront and would invest more than $3.1 billion in NHRMC and the community over the next four decades.

“We will together expand access to specialty care in Wilmington,” said Atrium deputy chief physician executive Dr. Scott Rissmiller. “We have a proven track record growing from 14 physicians to over 200 and we’re just getting started.”

Atrium also promises local control, proposing a nine-member governance board with six of those members being residents of New Hanover County.

“There is nothing that’s going to go forward unless the regional board is good with it,” Lovin said.

Atrium says it wants to focus on education as well with a plan to integrate Wake Forest School of Medicine into NHRMC.

“We are committed to, and would be together training the next generation of not only providers, but scientists as well, and we’re excited about that,” said Wake Forest School of Medicine executive dean Terry Hales.

The Partnership Advisory Group meets again next Thursday to continue discussions over the best choice for NHRMC. On Monday, June 22, there will be a public hearing to gather any comments and concerns from the community.

Click here to watch Atrium, Novant, and Duke’s presentations.