NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - As the days count down toward the deadline for their request for proposals, members of the Partnership Advisory Group (PAG) continues looking at the strategic position of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
At their meeting Thursday night, PAG members got an even closer look at the key “strategic needs” the hospital is facing — and how it would look to address them if NHRMC remains independent.
“When we talk about what we’re trying to achieve ... yes NHRMC is strong, and we’re trying to position it for generations to come ... but the end goal is to improve the health of our region,” said hospital CEO John Gizdic.
Gizdic presented the group with a recap of the hospital’s most recent strategic plan update, as well as a look at NHRMC’s level of care.
By 2030, the hospital anticipates seeing 24% growth in inpatient care, 48% growth in outpatient care and 54% growth in emergency department care.
As it stands now, Gizdic said, the hospital, on average, operates at 95% capacity on each of its floors. That regular occupancy combined with the growth has led to bed shortages, Gizdic said — last week more than 80 people ended up waiting in hallways to be transferred out of the emergency department.
He said that is one of many examples of the hospital’s need to grow, and to grow he said NHRMC needs access to capital and flexibility.
Representatives from Navigant went through 16 key areas the consultants and hospital leadership have identified as strategic needs based on the hospital’s most recent strategic plan.
Gizdic said the needs all need to be addressed in the next few years, and with the hospital’s current structure and access to capital, “it really creates a scenario that’s going to make it really difficult to pull off.”
Co-Chairs Spence Broadhurst and Barb Biehner have said the interim weeks while the RFP responses are coming in are the time the PAG will dig deeper into what remaining independent looks like.
At the meeting, the board was given a refresher on the governance aspect of the hospital as it currently exists, and what that looks like compared to other organizational structures.
Navigant presented a matrix showing the “barriers or limitations” the hospital board of trustees has identified, and how each structure addresses them.
Based on this matrix, board member Dr. Michael Papagikos asked if the PAG is truly exploring continued independence, or trying to prove that independence isn’t viable.
Broadhurst and others said they believe the answer lies in the information Navigant and the PAG support team continue to gather between meetings as the group asks questions, and that governance — which is what the matrix is based on — can’t be viewed in a vaccuum.
“I think it’s a great question, and I think the data is going to drive the answer to that,” Broadhurst said. “We are studying independence. We are studying what our options are with partnerships as we go forward, but right now what we are learning is what are the gaps if we stay independent, and what will it look like if we stay, for example if we stay exactly where we are right now, knowing what we know we need to accomplish to serve this community, what is that going to look like?”
The next PAG meeting will take place on Thursday, Feb. 20. Biehner warned members the next several meetings will likely go longer than the scheduled two hours, as Tuesday night’s did, because the information is only going to get more complicated and the conversations more robust as the process moves forward.