Mission Health’s sale to for-profit HCA may be final, but skeptics who pushed back against the deal during the many months of its negotiations aren’t letting up.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein negotiated stronger protections for the rural hospitals as a result of the state, but there’s still plenty of ‘optimistic skepticism.’
The SEARCH Committee of Yancey and Mitchell counties is one of the loudest voices advocating for greater access to healthcare in rural areas. Risa Larsen says the group is celebrating that many of the changes they brought up were made - but adds this is not the last you will hear from SEARCH.
“With regards to the larger foundations its not uncommon for it to be two years before they are up and running - There’s a lot of work to be done to make sure that everything gets set up correctly,”says Larsen. She also added that the group will continue to focus on improving healthcare access in their region.
Local chapters of NAACP were part of the outcry against the lack of diversity on the Dogwood Health Trust Board, the non-profit foundation that was created with the proceeds from the sale.
Enrique Gomez is the president of the Jackson County NAACP. He says he’s most concerned to see how Dogwood will work to solve racial inequity in healthcare.
“What we want to do and what we would like to see is that Dogwood Health Trust as well as Mission Health System as part of HCA will need to work together for a system to address those inequalities here in these mountains as well,” says Gomez.
Macon County mayors Patrick Taylor of Highlands and Bob Scott of Franklin both came out strongly against Mission’s decision to become a part of HCA’s for-profit health system. Vice Mayor of Franklin Barbara McRae is more optimistic that the deal can bring much needed funding to projects in the region. She’s learned a lot about the local access to healthcare as an ovarian cancer survivor.
“It sounds like the town and the county and the region have gotten a good deal - as good as we could hope for with the state of healthcare in the nation today,” says McRae.
Dogwood Health Trust has already promised $25 million dollars over the next five years for an opioid and substance abuse program and to build a new hospital in Franklin.