Saturday, July 2, 2022

Here’s how to keep up with the hospital sale as the vote quickly approaches [Free]

New Hanover Regional Medical Center could soon be sold to Novant Health. (Port City Daily photo /File)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — In less than two weeks, New Hanover County Commissioners will put a sale of NHRMC to a vote.

After 17 public meetings and hundreds of hours of research, dozens of stakeholders have decided New Hanover Regional Medical Center should be sold to Novant Health and the proceeds from the sale should be used to support a wide range of public health issues and other projects in the community.

Related: Should the new community foundation — managing $1.25 billion of the public’s money — be subject to public records laws?

In doing so, $1.25 billion in sale proceeds will be re-routed to a newly-formed organization the county’s outside counsel has designed to operate privately in an attempt to avoid the state’s Open Meetings law in order to avoid politicization. However, it’s not clear yet if these efforts will succeed without state intervention.

Friday, the county announced a vote on the sale is expected to take place Oct. 5, meeting the 10-day advance notice requirement outlined in the state law that governs the sale of public hospitals. The county began the process of the sale following the same law by approving an “intent to sell” resolution on Sept. 16, 2019, a contentious decision that sparked confusion, outrage, and frustration in the community.

Before the vote happens, the county will host its last public hearing on the proposed agreement between NHRMC, the county, and Novant Health on Monday, Sept. 28. at 5 p.m. The hearing will be held at the New Hanover County Historic Courthouse, located at 24 North Third Street, in Room 301.

The community can attend and share public comments (limited to three minutes per person), with social distancing guidelines followed — no advance notice is required for public speakers. Emailed comments must be sent by 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27 to comments@nhcgov.com to be made available to the board.

The hearing will be available live on the county’s Facebook pageNHCTV.com, and on NHCTV’s cable stations: Spectrum channel 13 and Charter channel 5.

The following day, on Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Partnership Advisory Group will meet for the last time and is scheduled to vote and make a final recommendation on the agreement.

Then on Thursday, Oct. 1, the NHRMC Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting and is expected to vote on approving the agreement.

Finally, New Hanover County Commissioners will meet the following Monday, Oct. 5, and vote on four key items related to the sale: the Asset Purchase Agreement, the use of net proceeds (how the $1.25 billion gets spent), the bylaws for the community endowment (the new entity in charge of managing the $1.25 billion), and the termination of the county-NHRMC lease.

Read the entire draft Asset Purchase Agreement or its four-page summary. Skip to the “Use of Net Proceeds” section, which outlines how the $1.25 billion will get spent.

Here’s how and when to participate in the upcoming meetings:

  • Last New Hanover County public hearing on the sale:
    • Monday, Sept. 28, at 5 p.m.
    • New Hanover County Courthouse, Room 301
    • Email comments to comments@nhcgov.com by 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27
    • No advanced notice required to speak in person (3-minute limit)
    • Attend in-person or virtually via Facebook live or NHCTV.
  • Last PAG meeting:
    • Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 5:30 p.m.
    • UNCW Burney Center
    • Attend in-person or attend virtually via Zoom. Parking is available in Lot M.
  • NHRMC BOT meeting:
    • Thursday, Oct. 1 at 5 p.m.
    • In-person attendance is limited. Call into the meeting: 910-386-0001 and use the access code: 28428
  • The final vote — New Hanover County:
    • Monday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m.
    • New Hanover County Courthouse
    • Attend in-person or virtually via NHCTV.

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