Ashe Memorial Hospital to join Novant family in 2013
by Jesse Campbell
The hospital's board of trustees confirmed Thursday they are in the final stages of outlining terms that will make Novant HealthCare the new management team at AMH.
“It's not a done deal, but almost,” said AMH board member Jim Gambill.
Novant is a not-for-profit integrated hospital system comprised of multiple facilities and clinics nationwide. They currently boast 25,000 employees in the southeast region.
“From time to time, management contracts expire and are renewed,” said the board in a prepared statement. “After reviewing the management choice for AMH, the board of trustees has selected Novant as the best available. We feel this choice will allow the hospital to not only continue to provide excellent primary care to the citizens but also expand services and move to be toward being the best primary care anywhere.”
Qurom Health Services, which was worked in that capacity for the past 31 years, will continue to oversee operations at AMH until July 31, 2013 when its latest three-year contract is set to expire.
The changeover in management will have a direct impact at the top of the hospital's chain of command, CEO R.D. Williams.
“Due to a noncompeting contract he has, after Aug. 1, 2013, R.D. (Williams) will no longer be with us,” said Gambill.
Williams could not be reached for comment.
Gambill said the decision to go with Novant stemmed from that organization's established track record of luring new physicians and specialists to communities that do not have advanced medical services.
Patients of AMH can also expect more of these services locally that in the past meant driving to Charlotte or Winston-Salem for care.
“The biggest thing people need to understand about this is that we are not being sold,” said Gambill. “No one on the board is in favor of doing that.”
The Novant organization has become a prominent healthcare organization in the Carolinas during the past several years, as they currently oversee services at Forysth Medical Center, Presbyterian Hospital in the greater Charlotte area and Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.
The ownership structure centered on AMH is unique, as when the community deemed the need for such a facility in the 1930s, stock was sold to citizens to help fund the organization and thus solidifying the hospital's not-for-profit status, said Gambill.
Stockholders have the responsibility of electing board of trustees (18) that in turn choose the appropriate management team.
“We're sort of like the Green Bay Packers of hospitals,” said Gambill jestingly.
The decision to pursue Novant's services was not one made in haste, said Gambill.
Board members evaluated other potential candidates including Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, of which Watauga Medical Center is an affiliate.
In the end, the decision to go with a larger organization seemed like the best fit, said Gambill.
“Not to toot our own horn, but in looking over the statistics and hospital ratings, our hospital is really good,” said Gambill. “We receive really high ratings compared to our neighbors, but to get better we need a closer alliance with a bigger hospital.”