Partnership Advisory Group Recommends Approval of Asset Purchase Agreement to Allow NHRMC to Join Novant Health

September 29, 2020
PAG Final 2020

After nearly a year of examination, public input, and discussion, members of the citizen group evaluating options for New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) have voted unanimously to recommend an agreement for New Hanover County to sell NHRMC to Novant Health. The agreement creates a partnership between NHRMC and Novant Health that includes an expanded relationship with UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine. Together, the organizations will be able to provide more services to the growing region and improve health through more accessible, high-quality healthcare. 

The Partnership Advisory Group reviewed and discussed the Asset Purchase Agreement at their final meeting September 29, 2020. The recommendation will go to the NHRMC Board of Trustees for a vote on Thursday, October 1 and the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners on Monday, October 5. 

“The agreement represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for NHRMC to get the resources and support it needs to grow and fulfill its mission to lead our community to outstanding health,” said Barb Biehner, co-chair of the Partnership Advisory Group.  

Novant Health, a North Carolina not-for-profit health system, has agreed to purchase NHRMC from New Hanover County for $1.5 billion and invest more than $3 billion in growing and improving NHRMC’s services in the area. Additionally, Novant Health and UNC Health have confirmed that if NHRMC is brought into the Novant Health system, they will work together to expand medical education, develop a children’s clinical service-line partnership with UNC Children’s, and develop research clinical trials and population health studies programs. 

“This decision will positively impact the health of our region for generations,” said co-chair Spence Broadhurst. “I am honored to have been part of a group that dedicated itself to the careful evaluation of options and charting the right course.” 

With the vote, the Partnership Advisory Group has fulfilled the goals outlined in its charter. The group was established by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners to bring citizen input to the review of options for the county-owned medical center. In addition to County Manager Chris Coudriet and NHRMC President and CEO John Gizdic, the 21-member board includes five members of the NHRMC Board of Trustees, five physician members of the NHRMC medical staff, and nine community representatives. 

The Partnership Advisory Group began meeting October 29, 2019. They have held a total of 18 regular meetings, in addition to separate smaller discussions to evaluate proposals and hear from potential partners. They have also volunteered time to talk with area residents throughout the process to understand concerns and answer questions.  

“The dedication and commitment of the Partnership Advisory Group has been tremendous,” said John Gizdic, NHRMC President and CEO. “They have been thorough and thoughtful in their approach to considering every possibility and deciding what is best for the people of our community. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service.” 

The Partnership Advisory Group studied the challenges NHRMC faces in growing quickly enough to serve the region while adapting to changes in the industry. They also learned how local residents could benefit from NHRMC’s integration into a system with the infrastructure and track record for advancing care while controlling costs. 

Meanwhile, area residents have expressed their support for a proposed partnership between NHRMC, Novant Health, UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine. In a sentiment survey conducted by a third party on behalf of Novant Health, 72% of respondents said they believe the overall impact to the local community will be positive. Reflecting on the most important factors influencing their positions, they cited quality health care and the ability of everyone to get the care they need. 

What’s Next 

The NHRMC Board of Trustees will meet on Thursday, Oct. 1 to vote on the Asset Purchase Agreement.  

At its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 5, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, will consider and vote on the following: 

  • Asset Purchase Agreement between New Hanover County, New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) and Novant Health 
  • Use of net proceeds (which is included in the Asset Purchase Agreement as “Exhibit C” and referred to previously as “Exhibit D” in the approved Letter of Intent), which includes establishing a $1.25 billion community endowment to benefit residents and support the community 
  • Bylaws for a community endowment  
  • The termination of the lease between the county and NHRMC (if the Asset Purchase Agreement is approved, the current lease agreement between New Hanover County and NHRMC would terminate at closing, because properties and facilities being leased would be sold by the county – making the lease no longer relevant). 

The public can attend the commissioners' meeting, but capacity will be limited due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines will be followed. The meeting will be available to view live on NHCTV.com and NHCTV’s cable stations: Spectrum channel 13 and Charter channel 5. 

The full agreement, presentations and more is available online at www.nhrmcfuture.org