Town board endorses UHS

Published 7:24 pm Sunday, January 16, 2011

Staff Writer

The Washington Park Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution supporting the proposed selection of Greenville-based University Health Systems “as the primary provider of health services in Beaufort County.”
The resolution was adopted during the board’s meeting on Jan. 10, said Mayor Tom Richter.
Copies of the resolution were hand-delivered with the intent of having them forwarded to the Beaufort County commissioners and the Beaufort Regional Health System Board of Commissioners, Richter reported.
The resolution notes that among the reasons given for the town board’s support of UHS are “quality health care,” “a positive long-term relationship” with BRHS, local health system doctors and staff who “overwhelmingly” support UHS as an operating entity or partner, and support from other residents of Beaufort County.
Resolutions do not have the force of law, and, in general, are used as lobbying tools to express a board’s positions on issues.
The Washington Park board has no jurisdiction over the future of Beaufort Regional Health System, the fate of which will be decided by the BRHS board and the county commissioners.
A letter signed by Richter was sent to these officials along with the resolution.
“While Washington Park is a small community, the Town Board believes that the Washington Park residents’ interest in health care is no different than that of residents anywhere in Beaufort County,” the letter reads. “Our Board knows that health care is an important part of a community’s sense of well being; it is an important component of our County’s ‘Quality of Life.’
“So we ask you, as our representatives on the County Commission and the BRHS Board, to consider the various points in the accompanying resolution that supports University Health Systems as the operating entity for the BRHS.”
In an interview, Richter confirmed that, to his knowledge, the town board was the only public body in the county that had come out in favor of a local alliance with UHS.
“The board recognized that the selection of a health service provider is far from settled,” he said. “And, as you can see in the resolution, the board felt that UHS is the best provider of health services for people not only in Washington Park but in Beaufort County.”
He added that, though Washington Park is “a small place of only 450 people,” town commissioners “felt that noting the general support that exists for UHS was something that could be communicated to both the hospital board and the county commissioners.”
Alice Mills Sadler, chairwoman of the BRHS board, said she hadn’t seen the resolution and would not comment on it.
She also said no other public bodies had weighed in on this matter, as far as she was aware.
“We always take resolutions into consideration,” she said.
The BRHS board is expected to reconsider various alternatives for some sort of partnership with an outside health-care entity, following last week’s withdrawal of a 30-year lease offer by Community Health Systems of Franklin, Tenn.
After the BRHS board recommends a course of action, the county commissioners will have final say over the future of Beaufort County Medical Center and its affiliated practices. The county owns the hospital buildings.