Sighs of relief

Published 1:19 am Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daily News Staff
The nearly year-and-a-half-long wait is almost over for Beaufort Regional Health System and its affiliated medical practices.
Local officials are inching close to inking a lease/purchase deal with Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.
The Beaufort County commissioners will have final say over the UHS agreement because the county owns the hospital buildings and buildings that house BRHS-tied medical practices.
On Tuesday, few of the commissioners were willing to discuss details of the pending deal on the record.
“There’s nothing to comment on until everybody signs the papers. Then I’ll have a lot to say,” advised Commissioner Hood Richardson, who also serves on the BRHS Board of Commissioners.
“The comment I have is I’m glad we’re moving forward,” said county Commissioner Al Klemm. “I’m glad that the hospital thing’s going to be resolved, and I anticipate voting for it, but I also anticipate reading every word in both of these documents before I fully comment on it.”
Like Klemm, Commissioner Robert Cayton hadn’t had a chance to pore over the proposed lease/purchase materials.
“I have not had a chance to go point by point over it all,” Cayton said, “but certainly it’s important that we continue to provide good health care for the citizens of Beaufort County.”
Cayton commended county-engaged attorney Bob Wilson for his work in overseeing negotiations with UHS.
“I’ll just be glad when it’s behind us,” said Commissioner
Ed Booth. “I will be very, very pleased when the ink dries. It’s been a long process.”
Commissioner Jay McRoy declined to comment until he’d had a chance to read over the lease/purchase papers released publicly Monday.
Commissioners Jerry Langley and Stan Deatherage couldn’t be reached for comment.
Some members of the BRHS board also couldn’t be reached for comment.
“No, I haven’t had a chance to read (the lease/purchase papers) yet. I’ll probably read it tonight (Tuesday),” said Grace Bonner, a member of the BRHS board, in a brief interview Tuesday afternoon. “I got a copy of it last (Monday) night.”
Bonner said she supports approval of the UHS offer.
“I’ve always leaned toward UHS. I have from day one,” said Bonner, who said she is willing to discuss details of the offer once she’s completed her review of it.
A spokeswoman for Brown Library in Washington said a copy of the UHS lease-purchase offer was delivered to the library Monday, but as of noon Tuesday no member of the public had reviewed it.
A Beaufort-Hyde-Martin Regional Library spokeswoman said shortly after noon Tuesday that as far as she knew no one other than library staff had reviewed the copy of the offer left at the library’s Washington headquarters Monday.
Copies of the assignment-and-assumption document also were left at the libraries.
As of 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, three people had reviewed a copy of the offer at the Beaufort County manager’s office, said Sharon Singleton, clerk to the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners. One of those people paid for a personal copy of the offer, she said.
As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, the UHS lease offer — posted on the Daily News’ website — had been viewed 1,595 times. The assignment-and-assumption document had been viewed four times.