WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County Commissioners will vote on September 3 on a resolution to explore new ownership opportunities for New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
The county is considering whether a larger healthcare system owner could provide greater financial stability in the future. Currently, the hospital is county-owned and receives no funding from tax subsidies.
Dr. William Hope is the President of the Medical Staff.
“I think people are trying to keep an open mind, knowing this could have a major impact on our hospital and our community so I think we want to make sure that whatever is decided, is decided for the right of the community and our hospital and our physicians and our patients at the end of the day,” he said.
Both the medical staff and the medical society held meetings this week to discuss the potential sale and the process that could begin after the commissioner’s meeting September 3.
Dr. Hope says the physicians’ groups would like to have a say in the process.
"We know that healthcare in the United States is spending a lot of money and there’s a lot of pushes, government pushes, a lot of hospital pushes to save money. Everybody wants to cut healthcare, cut costs, we want to be efficient, but for instance, our hospital, we have a huge growing population that we need to service and for that we need to build more buildings, we need to have more services and how we’re going to pay for that is going to be difficult when we’re trying to cut services. We want a lot of things in the hospital and some of these may be helped by other organizations that already have these in place that could share them with us,” he said.
Dr. Hope says the medical staff is not taking a stance for or against the potential sale at this point.
“There are some people that are not for it, there are a lot of people that are for it and there are always going to be some differences of opinions. I think for now everybody is keeping and open mind and I think everybody is willing to listen and understand why the hospital and the county is doing what they’re doing,” he said. “Ultimately, one thing we’ve all agreed on in the last few days is that we all love living in Wilmington, we all love working at New Hanover Hospital, we think its a great place to work, we like taking care of patients here and we want to continue to be able to do that and so keeping an open mind on how best to do that in the future is the strategy right now.”
Dr. Hope says there are some physicians who would like more time to become educated before the September 3 vote, but he says the majority is okay with the current timeline.
“That’s a few weeks and we’ve got a lot to do before that. We understand too, this is not under our control, this is the county commissioner’s... [they] are going to decide this. They’re going to vote on this. We would love to have some say in some of these things moving forward and I think we will,” he said.
The public will also have opportunities to express opinions.
Two public forums are scheduled before September 3 for the community to give feedback:
- Monday, Aug. 19, 6-7:30 p.m., Northeast Regional Library, 1241 Military Cutoff Rd
- Tuesday, Aug. 20, 8:30-10 a.m., Senior Resource Center, 2222 South College Rd.
For more information, WECT’s Emily Featherston broke down some common questions about the potential sale here, including questions about employee pensions, hospital facilities beyond the main Wilmington campus, and what the county would do with roughly $1 billion the hospital is said to be worth.