What if NHRMC ...

August 13, 2019
Phil Brown env portrait for CL

As a Wilmingtonian, physician leader, and health system executive, I admit I was shocked with the first news of the possibility of selling our health system. The hospital itself has been alive almost as long as I have (and yes, I intentionally referred to the hospital as “alive,” because we are a living part of this community). My first reaction was, like most I suspect, fear for the loss of something I hold dear. Then second, what does that loss mean for me? But as a community leader, very soon I realized how important it was to lean in to possibility. What opportunities might present themselves through the process of considering a sale? Beyond what I could think of, how do I help listen for the needs of the community so we explore the details of potential sale in ways that make us better? Whose needs are not being met now, and how do we meet them as a part of moving forward? As a result of this thinking, I very rapidly became optimistic about exploring potential opportunities for us to take our system to new levels of service for the community, whether inside or outside our four walls.

A few possibilities occurred to me, and while what is printed here in not an exhaustive list, I ask you to consider:

What if NHRMC found a resource that would lend their expertise as the hospital delivering the safest and highest quality care in the country? Would we want the safest hospital in the country when one of our friends, neighbors, or family members became sick?

What if NHRMC found a resource that had a track record of delivering the best outpatient care with the lowest need for hospital admission in the country? Would we want to bring that expertise here to help our local doctors create the processes to do the same for us?

What if NHRMC found a resource that allowed us to grow as rapidly as the region has, adding thousands of jobs with benefits for our citizens? Would we want those opportunities for our people?

What if NHRMC found a resource that has been able to extend the work we have already done with offering a living wage for our employees? Would we want that influx of economic prosperity to come to our community, to an even greater extent than we have been able to accomplish to date?

What if NHRMC found a resource that demonstrated a deep commitment to listening to the community, like we do, and who has the means to accelerate our efforts toward outstanding health? Would we want a healthier community, faster?

What if NHRMC found a resource that had a track recording of making deep investment in social determinants of health as a pathway to promote population health? Would we want an organization with those priorities, similar to ours but with more means, to be integrated into our community?

What if NHRMC found a resource that has demonstrated a track record of lowering the cost of care for a region? Would we want lower priced health care and lower insurance premiums?

What other “what if’s” do we need to consider? I am sure the list is long and the work will require much listening for the desired future. Once the picture is clear, we can go for it. These “what ifs” are made possible by county commissioners considering whether or not they should sell NHRMC. This exploration provides us the best possible opportunity to create a healthier and more equitable future in Southeastern North Carolina. During the process of asking this question, we are obligated to deeply examine the health needs and priorities of the community. Once priorities are identified and agreed upon, other organizations’ proposals can be weighed against our needs. If a good match is found, sale may be in order. If no offers match the need, now is not the time. The most valuable part of the process is to challenge ourselves to understand our health priorities. Do any of these “what ifs” resonate with you? What other “what ifs” would you propose?

Philip Brown, MD, is Chief Physician Executive for NHRMC.

Categories: NHRMC People
Thank you Dr. Phillip Brown.
Will all current NHRMC executives sign agreements to represent the fiduciary interest of the NHC citizens & sign a five year commitment to not accept any compensation from the new owners above the baseline inflation rate! This will help our citizens trust the opinions of our experts!!
Very informative and gives you a lot of things to think about regarding the sale of NHRMC. Thanks
Very thought provoking- The holistic look at the possibilities and areas of impact is something most people have not considered. It helps frame the conversation better. thanks for sharing.
My plans are to support the network, whatever the decision. I am extremely concerned about the incorporation of Behavioral Health though. I have heard concerns about a crisis in Substance abuse (many of which likely have an underlying Behavioral Health diagnosis. I want to see Behavioral Health on an equal access and treatment field, i.e., some proactive treatment such as accessible programs that promote cognitive restructuring. Thanks for the information.
What if our support teams like IT end up reduced or eliminated?
As a Wilmingtonian, I would also like to know that the commission, board or executive will not benefit from this sale. A spending plan for the sale proceeds needs to be passed into law and no commissioner, board member or executive can benefit from the spending.
Why did you shut down Dr Awomolo oncology? I can't believe y'all done this, she is the most caring Dr I have ever known 12 yrs. I've been with her for breast cancer. Just what all us cancer patients need. Now the time comes to find another one and I am lost.
We already have a great hospital built on years of competent and caring stewardship. What a shame for citizens of New Hanover county and region to be conned into selling this great asset. For profit hospitals and businesses have one primary concern regardless of the fluff we are told...Profits...surprise!! And "not for profits" aren't much better. Only, better tax schemes.
If you are not part of our community health care system which is already doing this, you need to move along. If you are so small minded that you cannot appreciate how well NHRMC has developed, you need to move along. This threat to buy us out is such a simple matter of what we offer in a world of dog eat dog competition. Privatized Healthcare is wrong. We have proven how to provide quality, forward thinking, Community Health Care.
Walking through the main hallway and observing the history of NHRMC, documented in the pictures, proves two things: change is inevitable and usually is positive. I trust the decision will be based on the same values displayed in those pictures of our past.
If and when this sale goes thru will our pdo,s be honored or forfeited ?
I want to why Jack Bar to is still so involved. Every meeting I've seen he is right in the middle of it. He is no longer an employee his only place at any meeting should be that as a county resident. This whole sale deal is shady and I bet my life major financial compensation is going to upper management and county commissioners. The sale is already a done deal, they just need the vote in a few weeks.

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