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Dogwood Health Trust announces community listening sessions with new independent monitor for HCA

Community listening sessions will be held across the region including at Angel Medical Center in Franklin. The new hospital building opened in 2022.
Lilly Knoepp
Community listening sessions will be held across the region including at Angel Medical Center in Franklin. The new hospital building opened in 2022.

Members of the public with opinions or concerns about the care Mission Health and its parent company HCA will have six opportunities to share their viewpoints with a new independent monitor who evaluates whether the health care giant is abiding by its commitments to maintain certain facilities and services across Western North Carolina.

Affiliated Monitors, the group chosen by Dogwood Health Trust as the new independent monitor to oversee HCA in April, will hold listening sessions across the region throughout June. The independent assessment was a term of the sale of Mission Health to the for-profit HCA in 2019.

Dogwood Health Trust, the nonprofit foundation formed in the sale, explained in January that it would be seeking to expand the role of the independent monitor. CEO Dr. Susan Mims explained the monitor will now be expected to engage with the attorney general’s office, conduct increased education and hold community engagement activities.

“As the environment has shifted over these five years, so has the work of the IM,” Mims said, referring to the independent monitor in January. “In response to listening to our communities and through collaboration with the Attorney General’s Office, Dogwood has asked the IM to add responsibilities beyond what is in the current scope of work.”

The move came less than a month after state Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein filed a lawsuit against HCA, accusing the country’s largest for-profit hospital company of breaching the terms of the 2019 agreement to purchase Asheville-based Mission Health System.

The change also followed safety issues detailed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In December, federal authorities concluded that conditions at Mission Hospital posed “immediate jeopardy” to patient safety, the most serious warning a hospital can receive.

A 384-page report released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in February detailed numerous safety issues, including understaffing and delayed treatment. In some cases, the report contends, the problems led to patient deaths.

Gibbins Advisors previously served as the independent monitor. Gibbins Advisors’ Ron Winters explained in 2021 that the group operated in a limited scope.

“I don’t want to sound overly narrow, but the thing that we can do something about – which is raise our hand and say that they are not in compliance – only arises when they are not providing the service,” Winters said during a virtual meeting.

During the June community meetings, Affiliated Monitors will introduce their team to the community, review HCA’s commitments, provide an overview of how independent monitoring works, and update the communities about the steps Affiliated Monitors has already taken, according to a press release.

Attendees will also have opportunities to share information and ask questions at the meetings.

“We look forward to this new phase of community meetings and invite the public to attend so that we may continue to learn from your experiences and fulfill our role in ensuring HCA’s compliance,” Mims said in a press release.

Affiliated Monitors has requested that attendees pre-register for each meeting starting June 3, using the updatedIndependent Monitor website. There will also be virtual viewing options to those who are unable to attend, according to the press release. On Tuesday, the new website was still under construction.

Attendees and those who are unable to attend will be able to submit questions in advance via the website, starting June 3. Answers will be grouped by topic and prioritized based on relevance to the facility most closely associated with each meeting, according to a press release.

All meetings begin at 5:30 p.m. and doors will open 30 minutes before the scheduled meeting.

Below are the locations, dates, and times of the public meetings:

McDowell County Meeting (Mission Hospital McDowell)

Monday, June 10 (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.)

Marion Community Building, 191 N Main St, Marion, NC

Mitchell/Yancey Counties Meeting (Blue Ridge Regional Hospital)

Tuesday, June 11 (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.)

Cross Street Commerce Center, 31 Cross St #215, Spruce Pine, NC

Buncombe County Meeting (Mission Hospital)

Wednesday, June 12 (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.)

Ferguson Auditorium at A-B Tech, Fernihurst Dr, Asheville, NC

Transylvania County Meeting (Transylvania Regional Hospital)

Monday, June 17 (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.)

Transylvania County Library, 212 Gaston St. Brevard, NC

Highlands/Cashiers Meeting (Highlands-Cashiers Hospital)

Tuesday, June 18 (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.)

Final location coming soon.

Macon County Meeting (Angel Medical Center)

Thursday, June 20 (5:30 – 7:00 p.m.)

Robert C. Carpenter Room, Macon County Community Facilities Building

1288 Georgia Rd, Franklin, NC


Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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