Save Our Hospital leader responds to NHRMC sale, partnership proposals

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — After New Hanover Regional Medical Center made their list of proposals to sale or partner with the hospital public, the leader of the non-profit group Save Our Hospital is speaking out.

Gene Merritt believes the county selling the hospital or partnering with an outside organization could lower the quality of care while raising prices.

“We have evidence from all over the United States that in mergers and acquisitions of this type, the typical outcomes are those outcomes,” he said.

As founder of Save Our Hospital, Inc., Merritt says he’s reviewed the executive summaries of proposals from the six interested parties. He says only three proposals stand out to him.

“Duke is one of the top medical facilities in the United States, they have a great reputation in terms of the quality of care,” Merritt said. “And the same for UNC Chapel Hill. And Atrium is a very big and wealthy organization that can afford to provide money for future growth and expansion.”

However, Merritt is concerned about Atrium’s proposal, a 40 year lease with the right of first refusal if the county decides to sell the hospital.

“Atrium is a partnership that becomes a sale thirty years or so down the road,” he said.

Merritt says he’s been pleased with the apparent transparency of the partnership advisory group as they navigate this process, but he’s concerned they are being guided by consultants who were hired by the hospital.

“We don’t want to be difficult or obstinate about this situation with the hospital,” Merritt said. “We just don’t want someone from Dallas, Texas running our hospital, with all due respect. We want it locally controlled.”

Hospital CEO John Gizdic has said the proposals offer “an unprecedented level of local control.”

To read the proposals in their entirety, click here.

Categories: Local, New Hanover