Pender County commissioners agree to sell Pender Medical Center to Novant Health

Pender County commissioners plan to transfer ownership of Pender Medical Center in Burgaw to Novant Health.
Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 5:11 PM EDT
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BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - Pender County commissioners plan to transfer ownership of Pender Medical Center in Burgaw to Novant Health. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve an agreement that includes a $50 million commitment from Novant to improve healthcare access in the county.

Commissioners agreed to the deal after seeking out a consulting firm, Ascendient Healthcare Advisors, to determine what future healthcare needs for Pender County might look like.

Novant Health has managed Pender Medical Center since 2021 when the company took over as part of its purchase of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

“It’s been a long and arduous process,” said Pender County Commission Chair Jackie Newton. “This was a very important decision. And this partnership, I feel very confident that we share the same vision with Novant for what the future of medical care in Pender County will look like.”

As part of the 10-year agreement, Novant Health will look to improve and expand the medical center’s current facilities, install new equipment, and recruit new professionals to offer more services. The plan also calls for Pender Medical Center to become a general hospital within five years.

“We have a lot yet to work out, but Novant will assume the properties for expansion purposes, as well as building other properties for expanded services and specialty groups,” said Newton.

Novant Health’s Coastal Region President Shelbourn Stevens says those expanded services could include a variety of options in an ever-changing rural healthcare landscape.

“We’ll do a lot of assessments around that, but expansions here for the acute care presence, maybe a larger emergency department at some point, and then also ambulatory access,” said Stevens. “So, it might be a medical office building down the road. There’s just a lot of assessments that we still need to do exactly to nail down what we’re going to do.”

Newton says county commissioners are in agreement that expanding healthcare access is a necessary part of the county’s development, and adds that the county had been searching for a healthcare partner before settling on Novant Health. Newton says the deal with Novant was finalized without seeking proposals from other providers.

“I feel confident that with the five-year commitment to converting our hospital in Burgaw to a community general hospital, I think that we can safely say that the future of health care for Pender County is going to greatly assist in our abilities to go forward in our economic development,” Newton said.

The county hopes to finalize the agreement with Novant Health in September and close the deal within six months.