Pender County and Novant Health leaders are preparing for a new era of community-wide medical service and care delivery.
The Pender County Board of Commissioners voted to enter into a $50 million agreement to improve Pender Medical Center in Burgaw. According to Novant Health officials, the goal is to improve health care across the county by allowing more people to receive quality care to reduce disparities in the area.
Officials are working to finalize the legal documents in September and close the transaction within six months.
How will it work?
Novant Health has committed to spending $50 million over the next 10 years in specific areas. According to a Novant Health press release, this includes building and facility improvements, new medical equipment, and the hiring of new healthcare professionals.
Another goal is to make Pender Medical Center a community general hospital. Jackie Newton, chair of the Pender County Board of Commissioners, said it was something Pender County doesn’t currently have.
“The Board of Commissioners is united in our goal of ensuring the best possible future for our hospital and all of our citizens,” Newton said of the changes to come over the next five years. “We have a framework agreement with Novant Health that achieves this goal.”
It was also noted that a community general hospital is defined under state law as “a hospital that provides diagnostic and therapeutic services to patients for a variety of conditions, both surgical and non-surgical in nature, such services being primarily be available to residents of the state.” Municipality in which it is located.”
Where is the money going?
To achieve its goals, Novant Health is spending $50 million in multiple areas.
Ruth Glaser, president and chief operating officer of Novant Health Pender Medical Center, said they are fortunate to be able to benefit from a strategic investment in the county’s healthcare.
Here are those listed by officials.
• Programmatic expansion, including physician recruitment and equipment investment in acute patient care and ambulatory services;
• Supporting faculty salaries for a rural degree program in Black River Health Services’ Family Medicine Residency Program
• Initiatives to develop community networks
• Modernization and modernization of the plant
• Human resource development, including education and training and maintaining competitive wages and benefits for hospital workers
• Additional staff
• Information technology, data analysis and digital health
What happened before the agreement?
Novant Health began operating the 86-bed facility in 2021 under an operating agreement related to Novant Health’s purchase of New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Under the new agreement, Novant Health now owns Pender Medical Center.
In 2022, Pender County Commissioners began looking at other options besides Novant due to service concerns at the time. However, officials agreed that Novant would continue to run the business.
Newton discussed forthcoming plans during a June 19 meeting.
“It was a long and tedious process,” Newton said. “It was an exhausting process that took a lot of time.”
She said it was an important decision for now and for generations to come while discussing the challenges of providing healthcare in rural Pender County.
“As you know, it is difficult for us to find rural doctors and healthcare professionals to come and stay in the rural community and we need these services so badly,” Newton said.
She added Novant is allowing Pender to appoint a majority of the hospital’s board members, among other aspects of the agreement, so the county can have more robust services.
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Reporter Chase Jordan can be reached at email@example.com.