FRANKLIN, N.C. (May 4, 2018) – As President and Chief Nursing Officer of Angel Medical Center, I know first-hand the importance of having accurate information when making healthcare decisions and that’s why I need to respond to the article titled “Mission CEO discusses buyout with AMC board, town leaders, media,” that was published April 25th detailing discussions from meetings about the proposal for Mission Health to join HCA Healthcare. The article mischaracterized several aspects of the discussion that took place that day and the proposed transaction. Not only as a Mission nurse, but also as a resident of Franklin who was in attendance at the meeting, I would like to set the record straight.
The article reported that Mission President, Dr. Ron Paulus said that “HCA doesn’t care about Angel Medical Center or the Highlands Hospital,” but what he actually said about the transaction was that “HCA is not doing this transaction because of Angel and Highlands. They like having Angel and Highlands as part of it.” HCA is interested in this partnership because the two hospitals are part of the Mission Health system. He also pointed out that while having the Mission Health system, in its entirety, join the HCA Healthcare is the objective of both Mission and HCA, the two hospitals do have the ability to opt out of the transaction if they so choose. However, Dr. Paulus did highlight the financial challenges the two hospitals would likely encounter should they decide to operate as isolated facilities without the support of the healthcare system as a whole.
The article did accurately report that North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein will have ultimate say on the state level over whether the deal goes through, but comparing the transaction to the failed Atrium Health and UNC Health Care merger; suggesting the HCA and Mission partnership proposal is doomed to a similar fate is downright misleading, and the facts used to support that claim are false.
The article stated “Attorneys general tend to examine not-for-profit conversions to for-profit entities closely because the state has invested in the organization over the years. Stein was extremely skeptical of a proposed merger between Atrium Health and UNC Health Care for that same reason earlier this year, before the deal ultimately fell through.” But the proposed merger referenced as comparison would not have converted a non-profit to a for-profit, UNC Health Care is a not-for-profit medical system owned by the State of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill, and Charlotte-based Atrium, formerly known as Carolinas HealthCare System is also a non-profit. Attorney General Stein’s concerns about that deal had nothing to do with the tax structure of the entities, his concerns were that the merger would “reduce choices available to patients and payors, or otherwise harm North Carolina patients, North Carolina businesses, or the State itself.”
These are difficult times to operate a hospital. The proposed partnership with HCA positions Mission Health System to continue to deliver high quality healthcare in western North Carolina. The reporter’s framing of the discussion around potential job losses left out an important aspect that was captured by other outlets covering the meetings, the fact that Dr. Paulus emphasized that it is too soon to know the employment impact, but that whatever the outcome, there would be far fewer job losses than if Mission continued independently.
As a member of this community who is served by Angel Medical Center, I believe that this partnership will help secure the future of our hospital and ensure that our community continues to have access to high-quality medical care right here in our town, and those benefits discussed at the meeting were under reported in the article.
The partnership with HCA would benefit communities by creating a Mission-led foundation that would have the ability to invest millions of dollars each year in Western NC. Funding could be used to meet healthcare needs, but also for food programs, housing, education and more.
This proposed transaction is about preserving and expanding care. Importantly, although we are still early in the negotiation process and haven’t completed due diligence, HCA Healthcare has made initial commitments ensuring that our capital projects planned for our region continue, including Angel Medical Center, the Mission Hospital for Advanced Medicine, and a new Behavioral Health hospital.
I thank the Macon County News for affording me the opportunity to set the record state. Just as our patients rely on my team at Angel Medical Center to do our due diligence to provide accurate information to help them make the best healthcare decisions, Franklin citizens are counting on the media and elected officials to provide accurate information to help our community understand the future of Mission Health.
Karen S. Gorby, RN, MSN, MBA, CENP, FACHE
President and CNO, Angel Medical Center
ABOUT ANGEL MEDICAL CENTER
Angel Medical Center, a member of Mission Health, is a full-service, not-for-profit community hospital serving Macon and the surrounding counties. Located in Franklin, North Carolina, Angel Medical Center is a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital offering inpatient services that include an intensive care unit, and a medical and surgical unit. Angel Medical Center has also been named an Acute Stroke Ready hospital by The Joint Commission and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Outpatient services include a wound clinic, chemotherapy services, a full laboratory, digital mammography, CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, rehab therapy, as well as surgical and endoscopy services. The hospital also operates Mission My Care Now Angel and CarePartners Hospice & Palliative Care. For more information, please visit angelmed.org.
ABOUT MISSION HEALTH
Mission Health, based in Asheville, North Carolina, is the state’s sixth-largest health system. In 2018, for the sixth time in the past seven years, Mission Health has been named one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics, an IBM Company and part of IBM Watson Health. We are the only health system in North Carolina to achieve this recognition. Mission Health operates six hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers, post-acute care provider CarePartners, long-term acute care provider Asheville Specialty Hospital and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. With approximately 12,000 team members and 2,000 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina. For more information, please visit mission-health.org or @MissionHealthNC.