Novant, NHRMC leaders map out next steps after affirmative vote for sale

Updated: Oct. 6, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT
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SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - After finally signing on the dotted line, the top officials at both New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Novant Health say they are ready to get to work.

There are a few procedural hurdles left to go — North Carolina Attorney General still plans to review the transaction before signing off, and then there will be a closing process applicable to a property transfer of this magnitude.

In the meantime, NHRMC President and CEO John Gizdic said he has already begun working to start the transition, beginning by meeting with existing hospital staff.

“I’m spending the entire day [Tuesday] with our leadership and with our staff, doing Zoom forums, and really rounding with them to talk about [the transition], and just have those conversations and answer their questions,” Gizdic said.

If Stein’s review is completed quickly and the deal is approved, Gizdic said the closing and the transition should happen by the beginning of 2021.

“We can’t really pull any triggers until we actually close, but between now and then our teams can get together and really prepare for that plan, prioritize.”

Novant Health CEO Carl Armato said prioritization is his organization’s first step as well.

“It’s really listening in detail enough now to work on how to prioritize their strategic plan,” he said, “because it may be new hospitals, it may be new ambulatory clinics, new primary care access points; it may be expanding in a relationship with UNC, and maybe the clinical research and the clinical trials and other specialty needs that might be needed in New Hanover County. So, what what I’m excited about is taking the prioritization and then investing, and really allowing the community to see the real impact that the partnership can really bring.”

Both Gizdic and Armato said they are confident the Attorney General’s review of the transaction will end in their favor, thus moving the process forward on the expected timeline, despite some—including County Commissioner Rob Zapple—raising concerns.

“We’ve been in contact with Josh Stein’s office since day one, and we will work collaboratively with his office,” he said. “Hopefully the Attorney General will see the unparalleled commitments that Novant Health has made to our organization and to this community.”

When it comes to day-to-day operations, Gizdic said employees won’t see changes until at least the closing process has been completed.

Then, he said, they’ve been promised a retention of staff for at least the first stage of Novant ownership, and Armato said he wanted to reassure employees as well.

“We’ve always believed that investing in our people’s resiliency and in them as individuals, allows them to be really world class team members at Novant Health, and then in turn, they deliver world class care to our patients and our communities and so on,” Armato said. “We’ve stood by that, and we will do that for the New Hanover Regional Medical Center team members as well.”

The plan overall, the leaders said, remains the same: A new regional healthcare system will be formed with NHRMC at the center, bringing Brunswick Medical Center under that umbrella.

What that will be called has yet to be set in stone, but Armato said they see the value in the NHRMC brand.

“Not only is it a very attractive name, but it’s a very powerful name in the marketplace,” he said, “and so we want to pay attention to that and let some of our experts help us with how we should handle that going forward.”

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