NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – The group charged with charting the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center took another step toward a recommendation Thursday night.
Out of a list of six, the group voted to further explore the details of potential relationships with three: Atrium Health, Duke University and Novant Health.
A majority of the meeting Thursday night was conducted in closed session, with the group stating the provision of protecting confidential competitive business information and attorney-client privilege.
Group Co-Chair Barb Biehner said the choice to move forward with further “due diligence” with the three organizations does not mean the others are necessarily out of the running.
“It doesn’t eliminate anyone and it doesn’t preclude any kind of input that may change around some of the other players,” she said, “but at this point in time, we’re very excited that in alphabetical order, Atrium, Duke and Novant were the three that were selected.”
The decision, Biehner and fellow Co-Chair Spence Broadhurst said, was unanimous.
“There were parts of all the responses that were very interesting to us,” Broadhurst said. “The three that we recommended, scored highest on our key performance and key areas, and so it was clear to us those are the three we need to ask more questions to get deeper into their their recommendations and move forward with.”
While the other organizations may not be formally out of the running, they will not be part of the site visits and research planned for the coming weeks.
After the session, which lasted more than an hour, and the subsequent vote, the group went over how site visits at these organizations will work given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Because of the virus, the PAG’s participation in the visits will be virtual and each respondent will have four meetings. The virtual meetings are anticipated to take place the weeks of May 18, May 25 and June 1.
Co-Vice-Chair Dr. Joe Pino said he thinks the need to meet with the respondents virtually might actually end up providing an unexpected benefit.
“The fact is, is that if we’re doing virtual visits, we’ll probably have a higher likelihood of engaging more partnership advisory group members in these conversations, rather than renting a bus and getting as many as we can up on the same day of the week,” he said.
After the due diligence period, the group will further narrow the options to one potential partnership. They will then compare and contrast options for either maintaining the status quo at the hospital or re-organizing the existing structure.
The next meeting, which will also be virtual, is scheduled for May 21. Members of the public with comments can email PAGcomments@nhcgov.com.
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