The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 18, 2013

Nash Health Care affiliates with UNC Health Care

By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER

ROCKY MOUNT — ROCKY MOUNT — Nash Health Care Systems on Monday announced its decision to affiliate with UNC Health Care. The agreement will go into effect April 1.

The UNC Health Care board of directors and Nash Health Care Systems’ executive committee gave their final approval of the management services agreement on Dec. 10, said Nash Health Care CEO Larry Chewning, in a press conference Monday afternoon. UNC Health Care was one of five regional tertiary hospitals that sent in a proposal to Nash Health Care System for an expanded affiliation relationship.

“After review of the proposals, it was clear that UNC Health Care is the right partner to help strengthen and guide our organization into the future,” said Vincent C. Andracchio II, chair of the Nash Health Care Systems Board of Commissioners.

UNC Health Care is consistently ranked among the best medical centers in the country, and

Chewning said that other affiliated hospitals say the affiliation with UNC is a “big community enhancement.”

“Clearly, we think the branding part of the relationship with UNC is an attribute,” Chewning said.

Nash Health Care will join nine other hospitals in its affiliation with UNC Health Care.

“I think they see us as their main partner or hospital relationship in the northeast quadrant of the state,” Chewning said.

The majority of the other hospitals affiliated with UNC Health Care are clustered around the state’s “Research Triangle,” with a couple of outliers in the western part of the state.

“We hope we’re better as a result,” Chewning said. “Just to be able to pick up the phone and call and compare what we’re doing…You feel like you’ve got nine other hospitals that you’re very close to that you can get instant information from. I think there will be hundreds of ways we will benefit that we haven’t even thought of yet.”

A benefit that Chewning has already thought of is gaining the status of a graduate UNC medical education facility as a result of the affiliation.

“It also creates a wonderful opportunity for physician recruitment,” Chewning said.

Chewning anticipates cost savings to Nash Health Care as a result of the affiliation, as well.

“We expect to be able to reduce the cost to operate our healthcare system,” Chewning said. The cost of the management services agreement with UNC Health Care is 0.2 percent of Nash Health Care’s annual net patient revenue, or about $400,000 per year.

In addition to reducing operating costs, Chewning said the relationship with UNC Health Care would give Nash Health Care access to “expertise in areas that we just don’t have right now.”

One of those areas of expertise is reducing the number of patient readmissions. Under the Affordable Care Act, Chewning said hospitals incur financial penalties as a result of patient readmission occurrences.

Chewning said Nash Health Care’s decision to affiliate with a larger system was a decision “very much driven by the Affordable Care Act.”

“Nash Health Care has enjoyed growth and success throughout its history,” Andracchio said. “However we know that it will be virtually impossible for community hospitals to operate independently in the ever changing health care environment. We are joining a strong and growing hospital system with experience in working in communities across our state…”

Nash Health Care will remain a non-profit hospital authority and the Nash Health Care Board of Commissioners will maintain governance over the system. Nash Health Care is comprised of five hospitals in Rocky Mount totaling 403 beds – Nash General Hospital, Nash Day Hospital, the Bryant T. Aldridge Rehabilitation Center, Community Hospital and Coastal Plain Hospital.

Nash Health Care serves patients from four primary counties – Nash, Edgecombe, Wilson and Halifax. Nash Health Care was founded in 1971.