NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The Partnership Advisory Group (PAG) tasked with exploring the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center continued drilling down on exactly what will go into the document that could decide the fate of the hospital system.
The PAG met for the fourth time Thursday night, and members continued going through the ten goals that will eventually become questions in the Request for Proposals to be sent out to potential partners or buyers.
That effort was a continuation of the group’s third meeting, where they got through five of the ten goals before adjourning.
PAG members were able to send in comments about the wording of the final five goals ahead of Thursday’s meeting in an attempt to save time and ensure that everyone’s comments were accounted for.
Representatives from Navigant, the consulting firm hired to assist with the RFP process, went back through the first five goals to cover what was gleaned from the last meeting.
In order to try to move the process along, members asked if Navigant could use the discussion Thursday to begin drafting the RFP questions ahead of the next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 19, which the company said could be done.
Still, hospital CEO John Gizdic said the group would still go back through the goals and questions to discuss the details and make sure the group is comfortable with the language.
Co-Chair Barb Biehner said she thinks the process is moving along as it should.
“I think we’re on track. I’m not going to say we’re going to end up exactly the way the original timeline was, but I think after a few more meetings we will have a better sense of exactly how we will start to unfold.”
The original, loosely-defined timeline had the RFP going out to potential partners as early as Dec. 31.
Biehner said she and fellow co-chair Spence Broadhurst have also tried to address some of the ongoing concerns and criticism about the process.
Save Our Hospital, a community action group formed in the last month, has sent letters taking issue with the timeline of the PAG, as well as transparency.
Biehner said she and Broadhurst were able to sit down with members of that organization the day following the last PAG meeting, and that she felt the conversations were positive.
That group has since reached back out to media outlets including WECT, further detailing the issues members have with the process.
Still, Biehner said she is comfortable with the actions of the PAG so far, and where the process stands regarding those concerns.
“I think when you have something as big as this consideration, you’re going to have to push back, because people are concerned,” she said. “Some of that concern is because they don’t understand all of the pieces, others is because it’s going to affect them personally, and they want to understand how. So we are continuing to work through those.”
The PAG’s next meeting will be on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the New Hanover County Government Complex.