Today, Mission Health System has officially been purchased by for-profit hospital system HCA Healthcare for $1.5 billion dollars. The sale has been in negotiations since March 2018.
“We’re looking forward to investing in western North Carolina and helping ensure Mission Health’s 133-year tradition of caring for communities throughout the region continues for many years,” says Sam Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare in a press release.
Mission Health’s six-hospital system will now be added to HCA’s network of 185 hospitals and over 1,800 care sites in 21 states. The sale also includes commitments to build new facilities such as a replacement hospital for Angel Medical Center in Franklin and a new inpatient behavioral health hospital in Asheville.
“This is a tremendous win for the people and communities that we serve, and one that may be judged by history as a positive inflection point for the communities we serve,” says Ron Paulus, president and CEO of Mission Health.
“We’ve not only provided for the long-term sustainability of high-quality healthcare and secured special protections for our rural communities, we’ve also created the largest per capita foundation in the nation to address the social determinants of health.”
Dogwood Health Trust is the foundation that Paulus is referring to. The nonprofit organization will recieve the proceeds of the sale plus Mission Health's remaining cash and investments - after all debts and obligations are paid.
Dogwood Health Trust has already committed to giving $15 million dollars to each of the six regional hospital foundations and has begun listening sessions to better understand what its mission will be in the region.
"Since the creation of Dogwood Health Trust last July, our board has been working to lay the foundation for an organization that will partner with and support organizations who are doing vital work in our community,"says Chair Janice Brumit in a press release. "We look forward to working with regional nonprofit organizations, state and local government leaders, other funders and experts in the field to meaningfully impact the known drivers of health and well-being throughout our 18-county region."
The board is currently: John R. Ball, MD, JD (Buncombe County), Michell Hicks, CPA (Qualla Boundary), Sam Lupas (Jackson County), George Renfro (Buncombe County), Robert C. Roberts (Buncombe County), Wyatt S. Stevens, JD (Buncombe County), Martha Tyner (Yancey County), Vivian Bolanos (Henderson County) and Jackie Shropshire Simms (Buncombe County).
A big part of the Mission Health-HCA negotiations was the approval of the sale by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. Stein approved the sale in January but added stipulations to the contract such as a commitment from HCA to keeping regional hospitals open for 10 years and a commitment from Dogwood Heath Trust to increase the diversity of their board. Local activists and community members have played a huge role in making sure that concerns like the lack of access to healthcare in Western North Carolina were front and center during this negotiation.
The additional property taxes generated by the sale will create also another foundation called Family-Friendly Affordable Buncombe. The organization estimates that the property taxes will total about $15 million dollars but won’t available until at least July 2020.
It plans to use the money to expand early childhood education and public transit in Asheville as well as bolster attainable housing, says the organization in a press release.