WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A big step forward in the future of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center was made Thursday night.
The Partnership Advisory Group met and voted, recommending a fully integrated partnership with Novant Health.
Novant would purchase NHRMC for $2 billion cash upfront, with a total investment of $4.8 billion over 12 years. That’s more than $2 billion higher than Atrium and Duke offered. Novant would also bring along UNC School of Medicine.
“Tonight, we choose to transform health in our region,” said NHRMC President & CEO John Gizdic.
Two weeks ago, the PAG came to the conclusion that partnering or selling the hospital would be better than remaining independent.
Atrium Health had two different options on the table — a 40 year lease and a $2 billion purchase option. They would have also brought Wake Forest School of Medicine. Atrium’s total investment would have been more than $2.8 billion.
Duke offered a $1.4 billion dollar purchase and the Duke University School of Medicine. Duke’s total investment would have been more than $2.8 billion.
“All three were outstanding, but Novant just felt like us,” said PAG co-chair Spence Broadhurst. “Their mission and value statement is almost identical to ours and it felt like talking to our local team, our local trustees, our local executive team when we were talking to them.”
Fellow co-chair Barb Biehner says she’s excited about the potential.
“Another key thing that they’ve invested in on their own is their data analytics,” Biehner said. “And they will bring that to us which also will help us not to just help with the health of our region, but also with the equity and really be able to understand what our region needs in order to meet the needs of the community.”
So, what happens to Atrium’s existing partnership with NHRMC and the more than 200 providers employed by Atrium? PAG co-vice chair Dr. Joe Pino says Novant has pledged to continue that partnership.
“If there ever is a time where Atrium decides to withdraw from an agreement with them, the Novant CEO has said very clearly he would be happy to take whatever employment agreement exists,” Pino said.
Choosing Novant also means UNC medical programs will remain at the hospital.
Broadhurst says this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and he hopes the county commissioners will approve the group’s recommendation.
“I think 40 years from now, people are going to look back and say, ‘We as a community were faced with an opportunity and we did not blink. We took advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity and it fundamentally changed healthcare for generations to come,'” Broadhurst said.
After Thursday night’s decision, the PAG will make their recommendation to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners on July 13, assuming it is passed by the hospital board of trustees.
The board of commissioners can vote to either approve or deny that recommendation, potentially moving forward with a letter of intent to Novant. It could be several months after that before a final agreement is reached.
Click here to view a news release from the county about the decision.
Click here to view the presentation from Thursday night’s meeting.
Click here to view the proposals.
Click here to view Novant’s public presentation from June 10.
Atrium released a statement Thursday evening regarding the PAG’s decision, stating:
“Over the past few months, it has been an honor for Atrium Health to share our vision and goals for what we could have achieved together with New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
While we are disappointed the Partnership Advisory Group is not recommending Atrium Health as the finalist to advance in this process, we respect their decision and understand the tough choice they had to make with $5 billion being offered by the recommended finalist.
From the beginning of this process, Atrium Health listened to the community and created a unique partnership approach that did not require a sale of the hospital, as well as an alternative comprehensive and fair financial offer. As the clear leader in community benefit among the finalists with an unsurpassed commitment to behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, we focused on what we could have accomplished together – from advancing clinical expertise in the Wilmington community, to eliminating health inequities, to training the next generation of clinicians and leaders, to growing a regional medical campus and residency programs. Most importantly, our proposals centered around fulfilling our mission of improving health, elevating hope and advancing healing FOR ALL in Southeastern North Carolina for decades to come.
With over 300 physicians and advance practice providers in the greater New Hanover area, Atrium Health will continue to do what is in the best interest of providing the personalized care this community counts on each day.”