BRHS board OKs RFP

Published 4:36 am Thursday, July 15, 2010

Staff Writer

The Beaufort Regional Health System Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night unanimously approved a document, called a request for proposal, that will be sent to the 10 health-care providers that have indicated an interest in possibly forming a partnership with BRHS.
The document outlines what BRHS expects from a prospective partner.
Alice Mills Sadler, interim chairwoman of the board, said BRHS may only receive responses from a few of those that receive the document.
The action to approve the request for proposal, or RFP, came after a line-by-line reading that produced few significant changes to a draft of the document. The RFP was prepared by HealthCare Appraisers Inc., the Florida-based consultants guiding the local health system’s search for suitors.
The board set a deadline for responses to the RFP at 45 days after it is distributed by HealthCare Appraisers.
The RFP asks for two types of proposals. The first asks prospective partners to respond to a BRHS request for a 20-year lease that would begin on or about Dec. 1, 2010, “to the extent practicable.” The second asks prospective partners “to be creative. If you see an alternative way to accomplish our objectives in lieu of the preferred leasing structure, we invite you to propose your best ideas without restrictions.”
The RFP includes data on the BRHS operations, a list of requirements for prospective partners and about five pages of questions to determine how the prospective partner would address the needs of the local health system.
It identifies at least $16.4 million in future construction needs — up slightly for the original draft of the document.
And it asks any prospective partner to meet 10 basic requirements. Those include providing quality care to all people in the community, regardless of their ability to pay, staying current with advancing medical technology, seeking to aggressively improve BRHS’s market share and providing a good work environment for health-system employees.
At the request of BRHS board member Edwin M. “Sandy” Hardy, the RFP also includes a requirement that any prospective merger partners strive for diversity in its employment practices that reflects the local community.
The RFP states that “an important consideration” in evaluating responses from potential partners will be their “commitment to understand and effectively address these matters.”
Other requirements for a prospective partner also listed in the RFP include the development of new services for the health system, implementation of a physician recruitment plan and retention of all health-system employees who are actively employed as of the closing date at their current salaries and a plan to transition benefits for those employees.
In an earlier interview with the Daily News, board member Jack Piland described the RFP as just the “opening” move in a series of discussions with the prospective partners that include Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern North Carolina, the sole nonprofit system on the list, and nine for-profit systems in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners has asked the BRHS board to give them a recommendation on a possible merger partner within 120 days.
In other business, the BRHS board heard, but took no action, on a presentation by County Manager Paul Spruill on the possible purchase by the county of property owned by the health system. The commissioners have offered to buy some 19 pieces of property — including buildings and undeveloped land owned by BRHS — for $4.8 million, which would enable BRHS to reimburse the county $1.57 million for its debt payment and provide the system with operating capital.
The sale would not affect the management of medical practices located in the buildings that are part of the purchase, Spruill told the BRHS board.
The health system’s board is scheduled to discuss the purchase at its meeting later this month.
All BRHS commissioners attended the meeting.