Hospital officials laud health care merger

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Roughly four years after Nash Health Care joined forces with UNC Health Care, it will now become part of a new affliation between UNC Health Care and the larger Carolinas HealthCare System.

No firm date has been set for the merger to take effect, said Ian Buchanan, new interim CEO of Nash UNC Health Care. Buchanan is now working jointly with current CEO Larry Chewning but will be assuming the full mantle of leadership next week as Chewning is set to leave office on Sept. 8.

Carolinas HealthCare System and UNC Health Care announced Thursday their plan to create one of the leading nonprofit health care systems in the nation by blending the best of a high-performing comprehensive health care system with a renowned academically-based enterprise, a press release from both organizations said. Carolina HealthCare Systems has over 7,000 beds in hospitals in both North Carolina and South Carolina while UNC Health Care has 3,000 beds in North Carolina.

For now, the two organizations have signed a Letter of Intent to join their clinical, medical education and research resources. Under the Letter of Intent, the two organizations have agreed to start a period of exclusive negotiations, with the goal of entering into final agreements by the end of the year, the release said.

Buchanan told the Telegram he does not know how long the matter has been under discussion.

“I have not been a party to those high-level discussions, but I do know that a lot of due diligence has been done,” Buchanan said.

The new organization will deliver world-class care to people in North Carolina by creating the most comprehensive network of primary, specialty and on-demand care in the Southeast, the press release said.

“Together with UNC Health Care, we believe that the opportunities to be a national model and to elevate health in North Carolina are nearly limitless,” said Gene Woods, current president and CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System and future CEO of the new unnamed entity.

Buchanan said he thinks the move will be good news for people of Rocky Mount and the surrounding counties

“Rural health care will be a priority for this organization so I think this will mean better access to health care in our community.” Buchanan said. “The reason Nash Health Care joined with UNC Health Care was to be able to expand services to this area, and this affiliation will help expand services to the region even more.” 

According to the press release, the new  integration of services between the two organizations will improve access to care in underserved and rural areas, jointly addressing behavioral health needs, designing new models of care and further developing virtual care platforms.

“By integrating our organizations, we are combining the strengths of two great health systems, providing greater access to a full range of services and leading-edge treatments for patients, enabling better coordination of care and advancing research,” Dr. William Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine, CEO of UNC Health Care, and future executive chair of the new organization, said in the press release. “Carolinas HealthCare System is one of the most innovative health care organizations in the nation, particularly in combining world-class clinical care with a community care model. By combining our two extremely mission-focused organizations, we will offer an unparalleled array of services, expertise and experiences for our patients and communities — beyond what either of us could do independently.”

For now, however, services in the Nash UNC Health Care service area should remain the same, Buchanan said.

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Hospital officials laud health care merger

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