Letter states case for merger with UHS

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, January 9, 2011

Contributing Writer

Beaufort County Medical Center’s chief of staff is urging the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners to reject the Beaufort Regional Health System’s Board of Commissioners’ recommendation that BRHS affiliate with Community Health Systems.
She urges the commissioners to, instead, pursue an affiliation with Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.
In a letter dated Jan. 6, a copy of which was delivered to the Washington Daily News, Dr. Rachel McCarter, writes, “As I am sure you are aware, on October 19, 2010, the medical staff of Beaufort Regional Medical System voted to unanimously support an affiliation with University Health Systems. … We feel that an affiliation with a world class hospital and a medical school 20 minutes away is an opportunity that is too good to pass up. We know that it is difficult to attract physicians to this area, but if we were an arm of UHS, it would be much easier to attract future physicians. It would provide us an ability to offer future physicians the benefit of small town living but withthe support of a large university. This is going to be a critical issue in our community and in the country at large as there is a critical shortage of primary care physicians.”
The letter continues, “Secondly, UHS is well known for its focus on providing primary care to rural areas. They have been the pioneers of telemedicine and Brody School of Medicine is a leader in graduating primary care physicians. They are experts in dealing with medical issues which are prevalent in a rural population who often have limited incomes, support structure, and transportation. Thirdly, we already have an excellent working relationship with UHS. The physicians there are already our colleagues and this makes it easier to provide timely and up to date medicine to our patients.” 
It continues, “We realize that as a medical staff this has become a political and economic issue as well as a medical one. We truly believe that UHS would increase economic development as more jobs are created to help build services here at BCMC. And we truly believe they would increase services. … I hope this letter has helped clarify our feelings and the logic for our decision. We are taxpayers, but more importantly, we are the people on the front line. We make life and death decisions everyday; we are the ones who know who we trust to help us provide the best (health care) to our patients, family, and friends. It is up to you, our elected officials, to see that the needs of Beaufort County citizens are met and we hope and pray that you will make the right one, which is to associate with UHS.”