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Monday, May 27, 2024

Poll: Over two-thirds of residents oppose NHRMC sale, think costs will go up

Gene Merritt shares prepared remarks at a Save Our Hospital, Inc. press conference held in Wilmington City Hall. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna F. Still)

WILMINGTON — Results from a recent opinion poll, commissioned by the Save Our Hospital, Inc. organization, show around seventy percent of residents polled oppose a sale of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center, with a similar percentage believing a sale would drive up healthcare costs.

The poll was conducted by the Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling firm, which contacted 667. The Save Our Hospital group was founded last year to oppose the sale of NHRMC and, recently, has shifted towards delaying a vote to allow political accountability.

It should be noted that the poll focuses on a sale — and the ensuing impacts — of NHRMC, not one of the options for partnership or long-term lease. Currently, the Partnership Advisory Group (PAG) is considering options from Atrium, Duke Health, and Novant (paired with UNC Health), which include a sale, lease, or other arrangements. Six total options remain technically on the table.

Editor’s note: The survey did not note its margin of error, but based on a county population of around 230,000 a survey of 667 creates a margin of error of around 3.8% with a 95% degree of confidence, generally considered to be at the industry standard.

Gene Merritt, spokesperson and co-founder of the Save Our Hospital group, noted that the results show both Democrats and Republicans are wary of a sale and its results, and favor. Digging deeper into the polls results (data is below), members of both parties were within the margin of error of each other on most of the issues, including opposing an out-right sale and supporting the current operational status of NHRMC.

Merritt, who has also criticized the PAG group for moving ahead during the Covid-19 pandemic, has asked the PAG to slow the process to allow for in-coming County Commissioners to vote after the November election and December swearing-in. Commissioners Woody White and Pat Kusek have both chosen not to run for reelection, meaning the board will by default see at least two new faces. PAG Co-Chair Spence Broadhurst, along with NHRMC CEO John Gizdic, have countered by citing the transparency of the process and have used the financial instability created by Covid-19 as an example of why NHRMC cannot survive in its current organizational arrangement.

The Save Our Hospital poll does not distinguish between sale to a for-profit and non-profit entity; HCA Healthcare’s is currently the only for-profit proposal on the table, although it was not chosen among the top three. A November 2019 poll showed that while the population was nearly split on a sale to a non-profit, a sale to a for-profit were not seen favorably.


Generally speaking, do you support or oppose the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center?

  • Support — 11%
  • Oppose —70%
  • Not sure — 19%

If New Hanover Regional Medical Center is sold to a large hospital system, do you think the cost of medical care?

  • Think cost of medical care will go up — 73%
  • Think cost of medical care will go down — 8%
  • Think cost of medical care will stay about the same — 14%
  • Not sure — 5%

If New Hanover Regional Medical Center is sold to a large hospital system, do you think the quality of medical care will get worse, get better, or stay about the same?

  • Think quality of medical care will get worse — 48%
  • Think quality of medical care will get better — 13%
  • Think quality of medical care will stay about the same — 34%
  • Not sure — 5%

If New Hanover Regional Medical Center is sold to a large hospital system, do you think there will be a loss of local jobs, or not?

  • Yes — 56%
  • No — 27%
  • Not sure — 16%

Do you support or oppose maintaining New Hanover Regional Medical Center as it now operates?

  • Support —76%
  • Oppose — 9%
  • Not sure — 15%


In the 2016 election for President, did you vote for Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton, someone else, or did you not vote in the election?

  • Donald Trump — 47%
  • Hillary Clinton — 44%
  • Someone else / Did not vote — 9%

Political affiliation?

  • Democrat — 35%
  • Republican — 36%
  • Independent — 29%


  • Female — 57%
  • Male — 43%


  • White — 80%
  • African-American — 13%
  • Other — 7%

Age? (Only legal adults were polled)

  • 18 to 45 — 19%
  • 46 to 65 — 43%
  • Older than 65 — 38%

Level of education?

  • High school graduate or less — 29%
  • Some college but did not finish — 22%
  • 2-year college degree — 9%
  • 4-year college degree — 25%
  • Post-graduate degree —14%

Household income?

  • Less than $25,000 — 13%
  • $25,000 – $75,000 — 30%
  • $75,000 – $125,000 — 13%
  • $125,000 – $175,000 — 3%
  • More than $175,000 — 4%
  • Prefer not to say — 37%

Save Our Hospital poll on NHRMC sale by Ben Schachtman on Scribd

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