Hearing on possible BRHS merger is set for Aug. 31

Published 10:27 am Saturday, August 14, 2010

Staff Writer

The public will have the chance Aug. 31 to voice opinions to the Board of Commissioners of the Beaufort Regional Health System regarding the possible merger of Beaufort County Medical Center with another health-care provider.
A public hearing has been set for 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of Building 10 on the Beaufort County Community College campus, The hearing allows the board to receive comments on its resolution, adopted July 13, of its intent to “lease, sell, or otherwise convey” the system’s hospital operations to another health-care provider.
The hearing was announced Thursday by Pam Shadle, BRHS director of marketing and public relations.
People interested in speaking at the hearing should call 252-975-4211 by noon Aug. 30 to be added to the list of speakers, Shadle said.
Groups representing many people who hold the same or similar view have been asked to designate a spokesman to speak on behalf of the group.
A 1 1/2-inch thick document, called a request for proposal, was sent July 21 to 14 potential partners. Under the terms stated in the document, those who receive the RFP were given 45 days from its date of issue to respond to it.
Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina; Health Management Associates of Naples, Fla.; Capella Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn.; Universal Health Services Inc. of King of Prussia, Pa.; Sunlink Health Systems Inc. of Atlanta; Ameris Health Systems of Nashville, Tenn.; LHP Hospital Group of Plano, Texas; Jackson Hospital Affiliates of Alpharetta, Ga.; Progressive Acute Care, LLC, of Mandeville, La.; Nueterra Healthcare of Leawood, Kan., and Brinn Healthcare, Community Health Systems Inc., LifePoint Hospitals Inc. and RegionalCare Hospital Partners of Brentwood, Tenn., are the health-care providers reported to have received the document.
The RFP asks for two 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. The second asks potential 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.
The RFP identifies more than $21.1 million in construction needs, an amount slightly higher than listed in a draft version of the document.
In addition to future construction needs, the RFP asks any suitor to meet nine 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.
The RFP states that “an important consideration” in evaluating responses from potential partners will be their “commitment to understand and effectively address these matters.”