The StarNews, Wilmington's local daily newspaper, encouraged the New Hanover County Commissioners to "explore new ownership opportunities" concerning the future of NHRMC.
The editorial is published on StarNewsOnline.com.
Here are some excerpts:
At its Sept. 3 meeting, the New Hanover County commissioners will consider a resolution “to explore new ownership opportunities for New Hanover Regional Medical Center.” We suspect the resolution will pass. If it doesn’t, the commissioners will be doing a disservice to residents by not at least exploring ways to best keep NHRMC on a financially sustainable path while advancing the community’s priorities for care.
If the current model is best, so be it. Other options could include selling to a private not-for profit health network, or to a for-profit company, or even joining another public health system.
Fortunately, as CEO John Gizdic said, NHRMC is “clinically, financially and operationally strong.” Although the county owns NHRMC, it has never received local tax dollars for its operations.
The fact that NHRMC has remained self-sustaining is quite a feat. Having done so while adding services in multiple specialties, greatly expanding facilities and providing millions in care to the poor is truly remarkable, a testament to the organization’s leadership over the years. (Board members are appointed by the commissioners.)
Despite that record, however, there are reasons to question how long it can last. Across the nation, health-care systems are being pressured to simultaneously contain costs and improve patient outcomes.
If NHRMC is sold, the challenge will be to ensure that its priorities -- and, more important, the priorities of the county’s residents -- are embraced by any new owner.
Even though the county would no longer own NHRMC, a buyer can be contractually required to meet certain conditions after taking ownership. And, of course, proceeds from a sale would be huge ($1 billion is one figure we’ve heard mentioned) and could be a game-changer for funding vital needs in the county.
The hospital is in its best shape ever. As a seller, the county would have a strong position from which to shape any deal. The commissioners are obligated to pursue the best, most-sustainable future for NHRMC. We urge them to pass the resolution Sept. 3 and begin exploring the best way forward.