Sale of High Country Health Systems nears completion
by Adam Orr
sale of High Country Health Care Systems, a nonprofit home health and
hospice care organization, is nearing completion, according to the
Appalachian District Health Department's Director of Health Beth
top company in the running ... is Medical Services of America,” Lovette
told the Ashe County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 5. “I say in the
running because like any deal it could fall apart and we would be
looking at the second best deal.”
Appalachian District Health Department owns 66.5 percent of High
Country Health Care Systems that has provided healthcare services to
Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga Counties for more than three decades. Ashe
Memorial Hospital owns the remaining 33.5 percent of HCHCS.
ADHD has searched for potential buyers of the hospice provider since at least June of this year, when the agency announced public meetings to discuss the process.
“After declining revenues over the last couple of years, we've pulled in a consultant and we're in the process of evaluating and planning to sell High Country Health Care Systems,” said Lovette. “Today all of the bids have already come in and they're on public display in the High Country Offices in Ashe and Watauga Counties and the Health Department in Alleghany County.
looks like they're a good company to work with,” she continued. “I have
to commend the staff of High Country Health Care because they have been
absolutely really good to work with and as positive about this big
change in their lives. I also think they're looking forward to working
with a larger, stable company.”
said if the deal remains attractive to all parties, she anticipates the
board of health will take official action to approve the sale to
Medical Service of America on Nov. 29.
that, there is some additional approval that has to go on by folks in
Raleigh ... it's a very difficult process because we're a public entity
and High Country is a nonprofit,” said Lovette. “We anticipate that the
closing date for the sale will be no sooner than 30-60 days after Nov.
29 and could be much delayed.”
through that (meeting) that we created the environmental health
advisory committee,” said Lovette. “It's really a Watauga/Ashe Committee
but it's met over here for five months and we'll meet a sixth time in
April, more than 70 local residents voiced their complaints about
Appalachian Regional Health Department building inspectors and the
permitting process during a public forum at the Ashe County Courthouse.
continue to look into things like staffing across the district and
meeting the needs here in Ashe,” said Lovette. “We'll also be compiling a
really good summary to share with you and Watauga County Commissioners
about the changes that we've been able to make (since April's meeting).”
said 21 department employees work full time at the Ashe County Health
Department supplemented by 11 additional employees who work across the
three county district.
we do have only one environmental health employee stationed here in
Ashe, when I did the math on pulling staff over to help with the
increased applications, we have a little over one full time employee,”
also told commissioners there was a spike in water protection
applications this past summer, likely a result of speculative land
best I can tell, this was caused by big developments changing hands
over the summer,” said Lovette. “So when folks are selling or reselling,
or selling (lots) contingent upon septic permits, those come into our
said, between 2009-2011 their office had never received more than 162
water protection applications. In the first nine months of 2012 alone,
they received 268.
“The way we've survived over the summer is pulling staff willing to work overtime on Saturdays to spend times inside the subdivisions where they can really knock out a lot of applications in one day or over a couple of Saturdays instead of pulling them off day to day work,” said Lovette. “That's not ideal, and over time that becomes expensive.”