Today I will travel to Raleigh to meet with the North Carolina Attorney General and his staff. I will address the impending sale of Mission Healthcare facilities, including our hospital, to Hospital Corporation of America and the creation of the Dogwood Health Trust. Attorney General Stein is responsible for reviewing and approving these transactions. I anticipate the AG approving the sale, but I will urge him to put in place several conditions that will serve the public interest.
As Highlands mayor I have spoken out about this impending change to healthcare in Western North Carolina. My intent is not to be an obstructionist. Our friends at Mission Healthcare have presented a very good case for the benefits of the sale to Hospital Corporation of America. My information indicates HCA is the national leader in hospital healthcare, and HCA will be a good fit for Mission. My involvement, along with the resolution adopted by the Highlands Town Board, are done in the spirit of insuring the best possible outcome for our community.
Let me summarize what I will discuss with the AG and his staff. I will emphasize how vital healthcare access is to the citizens of the Highlands and Cashiers communities. If our hospital were closed, the impact would have reverberations throughout the community. Along with other rural communities that are long distances from the full-medical services in Asheville, we are concerned about maintaining viable healthcare access. The recent incident where a patient at the Highlands Cashiers Hospital could not be transported to Asheville before her appendix ruptured is illustrative of this concern. We simply can’t endure erosion of services.
I have created a petition for concerned citizens to sign. That petition will be sent to the Attorney General’s office in the coming days. At the meeting I will let the AG know the petition is forthcoming. The petition statement is posted below. I will have a copy of the petition for citizens to sign at my office in town hall. Simply let the front desk folks know you want to sign the petition. The petition to the Attorney General states the following:
“We, the undersigned residents of Highlands, North Carolina, ask that you save our hospital. To do that, we ask that in your approval process of the proposed transaction between Mission Health System, Inc (“Mission”) and affiliates of Hospital Corporation of America (“HCA”) you require (1) services at the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital remain at their present level for a minimum of ten (10) years, (2) that the emergency room facilities be maintained during that same period, (3) that if the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital is proposed to be sold that an entity established by the Highlands community be given a right of first option to purchase the properties constituting the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Campus, (4) that the $15 million to be given to The Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Foundation be given in one lump sum when the transaction is closed, and (4) that the board of directors of Dogwood Health Trust be independent of Mission or HCA and be subject to open meetings and open records requirements.”
For folks not available to sign the petition, simply email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and state support for the petition.
For those who would like to write the Attorney General Stein a letter expressing your views, his address is:
Attorney General Josh Stein
Attorney General’s Office
9001 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, N.C. 27699-9001