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Franklin Residents Say Services At Angel Medical Center Are Lacking Since HCA Took Over

Lilly Knoepp
Franklin residents say they are worried that the town's hospital is just becoming a transfer site to send patients to Mission Health in Asheville.

  The independent monitor over HCA continued its tour of Western North Carolina at the Robert Carpenter Community Center in Franklin.

The meeting was held in the middle of a work day, something that frustrated the almost 50 people that gathered in Franklin to ask questions and air their concerns to Gibbins Advisors. Ron Winters is with the independent monitor overseeing HCA. 


“What we aren’t charged with, and what we don't have the authority to do is to chase down individual issues. But what we can do is something about is assure compliance and I’m just going to go through that,” says Winters, who outlined the 15 commitments made by HCA. 


That includes HCA’s commitment to build a replacement for Angel Medical Center in Franklin. Ronnie Beale, vice-chair of Macon County Commissioners asked for an update on the new building. He said the county would gladly purchase the old Angel building from HCA.  


“We think it would be a very nice gesture from HCA. We’ll offer them a dollar right now,” says Beale as the crowd laughed. He added that it would be a good location for a behavioral health facility.


Beyond questions about the new hospital, concerns were raised about excessive billing, long wait times and expensive transfers to Mission Health in Asheville.  


“This is unconscionable and inhumane.”


That’s Jennifer Turner-Lynn from REACH which helps victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. She says that since the sale of Mission to HCA forensic tests such as rape kits haven’t been available at Angel. Instead, REACH has had to take victims on the almost-70 mile trip over the mountains to Mission Health. And once they got there...


“The last time I did a rape kit and took a victim to Mission Health we were there for 13 hours,” says Turner-Lynn. 


Angel Medical Center CEO and CNO Karen Gorby was in the audience. Gorby said that she attended the meeting to hear concerns and didn’t want to comment. She did say the hospital plans are still being finalized and the date to break ground is now September. The project is expected to cost over $65 million dollars.  

More public meetings with the independent monitor are scheduled in Asheville, Brevard, Marion and Burnsville starting February 10. 

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who 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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