NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Tensions ran high at the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday regarding the Partnership Advisory Group (PAG) meeting on the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Two PAG members updated commissioners on the status of the request for proposal forms which have been sent to more than 20 healthcare organizations.
After the presentation, commissioners got into a heated debate on the sale of the hospital.
“I think there’s been a little bit of misinformation spread by Commissioner Zapple and we just basically called him out on it and said we didn’t appreciate him spreading lies and saying a deal was done and it’s been sold and that’s important. He had caused so much uproar in the community by saying these things and it was important for myself to get the record straight,” said County Commission Chair Julia Olson-Boseman.
Zapple refuted those claims, saying he does not spread rumors and that he is approaching the potential sale with ‘healthy skepticism’ and bringing up concerns community members have brought to him.
“This is probably the greatest impactful decision we’ll make as commissioners in our terms and possibly our lifetimes. I understand the frustrations of my fellow commissioners. Some of the wording that they used today, I believe is unfortunate. I’d like to hope that, well they said what they had to say. I’m telling the truth. I’m bringing forward difficult questions,” Zapple said.
Proposals are due back in March and in the meantime, the group will explore how the hospital could remain independent.
“We want to make sure that healthcare is not only as good as it is today but better. We don’t know if it’s going to be a partnership, a sale. I mean, we have Duke coming, Carolina, the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic. There’s a lot of people who have expressed interest and it’s just an exciting opportunity for our community,” Olson-Boseman said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners also voted unanimously to pass a resolution with the Wilmington City Council for Enhanced Public Transportation.
Commissioners have expressed frustration with the current WAVE transit system and its ineffective funding.
Olson-Boseman said she is glad the city and county can work together toward a solution.
“It’s so exciting that it was a unanimous decision, that we all moved forward together, the five of us, with hopefully the city council tonight. And we’re committed, I’m committed to making a better system that is more modern and accessible and I’m just excited about it,” Boseman said.
The Wilmington City Council is expected to vote to adopt the same resolution at tonight’s meeting.
Commissioners also unanimously selected a development team for the Government Center Redevelopment Project
New Hanover County staff interviewed two developers and recommended the commissioners select GHK Cape Fear FD Stone Water for the project.
The non-binding negotiating contract begins tomorrow and runs through June 1.
During this time they will complete pre-development projects including potential uses for the site and a feasibility study.