City drafting resolution on hospital issue

Published 12:37 pm Friday, August 27, 2010

Contributing Editor

The City of Washington is preparing to make its concerns over the future of Beaufort County Medical Center known.
During its meeting Monday, the City Council gave the OK for city officials to draft a resolution that includes a list of considerations the city wants those who are deciding what to do with the hospital to keep in mind. Once the draft resolution is prepared, the council will review it before taking action on it.
Some council members indicated they are wary of the city getting involved in the decision-making process regarding the hospital’s future.
“We don’t have a dog in that fight,” said Councilman Doug Mercer, who believes that decision-making process is between Beaufort County government and the hospital’s government bodies, including Beaufort Regional Health System.
Mayor Archie Jennings said the city should develop a “set of considerations” for the county and hospital’s governing bodies to keep in mind as they work to determine the hospital’s future. Jennings said the resolution is a way of “reminding them how important that hospital is to this community for a number of reasons.”
City Manager James C. Smith said the hospital and its surrounding medical community are key components of the city’s economy, with the hospital being one of the largest employers in the city. Changes at the hospital and in its medical community could have an adverse influence on that economy, Smith warned.
Beaufort Regional Health System is seeking proposals from 14 potential merger partners, including Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern North Carolina and 13 for-profit systems based in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.
Concurrently, it is seeking ways to improve its financial situation.
A 6 p.m. Tuesday, 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.
The hearing will be conducted 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.