Last public hearing held before commissioners vote on NHRMC sale

Community at last public input meeting on Sept. 28, 2020 before vote on hospital sale. (Photo: WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tonight is the last chance for the community to have their voice heard over the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Last week, a judge ruled against a group trying to delay a decision. New Hanover County Commissioners will vote on the sale between the county, NHRMC, and Novant Health on Oct. 5.

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WWAY’s Sydney Bouchelle is at the public hearing and says there are some passionate voice on both sides of the issues.

Prior to the meeting, she says most of the people outside were in support of the partnership. However, there were a couple of people that express their disapproval as they walked into the hearing.

Community outside of building where last public input meeting was being held on Sept. 28, 2020 before vote on hospital sale. (Photo: WWAY)

“This is the greatest thing to happen for health care since 1967 when the hospital opened, but for health in our region it’s the best thing to ever happen in history,” NHRMC Chief Physician Executive Dr. Philip Brown said.

Brown says the partnership will help achieve health equity and train better healthcare workers.

“An opportunity to transform the way we’ve thought about health across the region and I’m extremely excited that great things are about to happen,” he said.

Senator Harper Peterson is not quite so enthusiastic. He asks, why the rush?

“County commissioners fear that a new county commission will reject the validity of this contract,” Peterson said. “I would have faith in its merit that you can pass it on to a new county commission and they will support it, but that’s not been the case.”

Peterson’s main focus at Monday’s meeting was the foundation that will control the $1.25 billion the county will receive following the sale.

“That’s public dollars. There should be some oversight, should be open meetings, open records.”

The New Hanover County and New Hanover Regional Medical Center Partnership Advisory Group (PAG) will hold its last meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

The meeting will be held at UNCW’s Burney Center, located at Price Drive on the UNCW Campus. The meeting will be open to the public and can also be watched virtually using this public zoom link.

This will be an opportunity for the group to discuss feedback and the final agreement. They will vote and make a final recommendation at this meeting regarding the agreement that will then go to the NHRMC Board of Trustees and New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.