Southport could see new nursing center if state OK’s Dosher’s sale of state license

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Although Dosher Nursing Center has an award-winning staff, the hospital has opted to sell its state license to better serve the residents of Southport. Courtesy photo.
Although Dosher Nursing Center has an award-winning staff, the hospital has opted to sell its state license to better serve the residents of Southport. Courtesy photo.

A nursing center in Southport could close its doors and make way for a new state-of-the-art facility in the area, following Dosher Memorial Hospital’s sale of its state license to a private healthcare company.

The $1.28 million transaction with Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitative Services was approved by the hospital’s board of trustees earlier this week.

Liberty was both the highest and best of three bids, according to James Goss, marketing and communications director for Dosher. The other two bids – from Smith/Packett Med-Com LLC and The Brunswick Community LLC – came in at $1.15 million and $570,000, respectively.

Last fall, Dosher embarked on a 90-day review of the site, seeking input during the process from families of nursing center residents, physicians, community leaders, and Dosher board members. Trustees were, at that time, considering three options–make no changes to the facility, spend $3 to $5 million in upgrades or sell the license.

“At no time did the board consider closing the 64-bed nursing center,” Goss said.

Each group of constituents solicited for feedback came to the same conclusion that selling was the best option. In December, trustees agreed and voted to move forward with the process.

If approved at the state level in the coming weeks, Goss said the sale will mean Southport’s Smithville Township will see a new nursing care facility from Liberty in or within five miles of the district’s lines.

While the venture is both a money-maker and cost-saver for the hospital, Goss said the most important factor in the decision was people.

“It’s all about care for the residents and the families,” he said.

The center costs the hospital approximately $1 million per year because, Goss said, state reimbursement for critical access hospitals with nursing centers is lower than the level assigned to private companies.

“This expense would remain even if Dosher were to spend millions to try to upgrade the current facility,” he said.

While Dosher Nursing Center was built in 2010, the facility lacked the most modern equipment and the infrastructure to expand, Goss said. Liberty, which operates 19 nursing sites across North Carolina, is better prepared to create a care center with both.

One example Goss gave is physical therapy capabilities. Dosher Nursing Center’s rehabilitation room is small compared to others trustees toured in the area. But expanding upon its existing space would have proved too costly for the hospital, he said.

While a timeline is not yet in place for Liberty’s new site, Goss said Dosher has future plans to repurpose its nursing center, adjacent to the hospital campus, to accommodate its growing wound care services.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.