WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Two down, one to go — the board of trustees for New Hanover Regional Medical Center is also in favor of a deal with Novant Health, as the measure heads for the New Hanover County Commission.
After a three hour closed session Tuesday night, the NHRMC board voted 16-1 to endorse the Partnership Advisory Group’s recommendation, and set out early details for what to do with the proceeds of the deal, should it go through.
On July 2, the advisory group (PAG) recommended NHRMC pursue a “full strategic partnership” with Novant Health and UNC Health and medical school, to the tune of roughly $5.1 billion — $3.1 billion committed to future capital projects, and the remainder in the form of cash up front.
In their vote, the trustees said they want to make sure some of that money is used for employees of the hospital, with at least $200 million going into a fund to help ease the transition when it comes to retirement and other benefits.
“While we firmly believe a partnership is in the best interest of the community and the NHRMC team, we know any transition is difficult for those doing the work and continuing to provide care,” said board chair Jason Thompson in a press release. “We want to provide the resources to help them personally and professionally so they will stay with NHRMC and grow with the organization for many years to come.”
Another $300 million would be set aside for New Hanover County in somewhat of an emergency fund, as a means to help offset the cost to taxpayers when things like hurricanes or other unexpected situations arise.
An additional $50 million would be set aside to help fund mental health resources, and the remaining $1.25 billion would go toward supporting community efforts in education, health equity, public safety and community development.
After the vote, trustee and PAG member Brian Eckel said both bodies are strongly in favor of a partnership with Novant, not just because of the financial windfall, but because of the culture of the organization.
“Novant lines up with us in so many different ways,” Eckel said. “If you look at our mission and values, they almost mirror each other. We spent dozens of hours with each entity and Duke and Atrium were also great, so it was nothing against them whatsoever, but Novant, the culture aligns perfectly with New Hanover. And it’s one of those things that’s hard to describe, but it just felt really felt like home. Honestly.”
The New Hanover County Commission has the final say in the matter, and will discuss the issue on Monday, July 13. Commission Chair Julia Olson-Boseman is also an NHRMC Trustee, and was one of the 16 votes in favor Tuesday night.