Publisher's Note: Brandia Deatherage could not attend the public hearing for BCN, so I am very thankful for Delma Blinson and the Beaufort Observer for making these videos of this public hearing on the ongoing bid process for the proposed merger of the Beaufort Regional Health Systems with a fiscally stronger partner. Of course, I was at the public hearing: took notes and made a few images, but we will rely mostly on these videos to help construct future articles of why some special interests do as they did during what was supposed to have been a bid process.
There were 289 chairs in the audience and most were taken and a few stood in the back. A hospital official recognized "most" of those present as being either Health System employees or associated with the hospital in some way. But only 22 spoke and most of those said the same thing: Merge with University Health System (UHS) and the sooner the better.
Only a couple of speakers spoke directly to the details of the proposals before the board. Most extolled the aura they associate with UHS rather than the details of either the UHS proposal or the comparisons among the proposals. Few made suggestions that would be pertinent to the detail negotiations that lie ahead. For example, only one speaker (John Murphy) addressed the major difference between UHS's proposal and the original Community Health System proposal which has now been withdrawn. He suggested that the ownership of the real estate be left open at the end of the lease and the Chamber suggested this be reviewed. UHS proposes to take ownership of the property at the end of their lease presumably for $1.00. CHS would leave the ownership of the real estate with the county. None of the speakers, including those in the health system, spoke to the adequacy of the proposed working capital part of the proposals, the standard of care that would be met and how it would be assessed nor the decision-making process and whether Beaufort would have a seat at the table when those decisions are made. And nothing was said about what should be done about doctors' practices that are losing money. Nor did any of the doctors make any recommendations about what might be in a lease detailing the process that would be used in determining which practices to close, expand or open.
So what you will hear below in the videos is mostly generalities and feelings about UHS. What was clear and a point made over and over again was how important "quality health care" is to the community. But no one spoke to how that should be measured as a performance indicator. Nor was there any mention of what the process would be in the lease for addressing non-performance.
Another interesting point made by several speakers was the fact that there is already a mutually beneficial relationship between Beaufort and UHS. But only one speaker pointed out that such benefits can come without an ownership agreement or change in ownerships. Some speakers mentioned that UHS owning Beaufort would facilitate recruiting doctors. But nobody pointed out that residents can already rotate through BRMC and local practices and in fact do so in non-UHS facilities.
We will have more on such details as the hospital boards now get down to the negotiations on the details of a potential affiliation. We are also working on trying to find out why Community Health System pulled out.
In the meantime here are the videos:
The first video includes the welcome and introductions and the first speaker, Austin Smithwick, representing the Chamber of Commerce. We had a technical malfunction during this presentation and we apologize for that.
The second clip includes speakers: Renee Taylor, John Murphy, Jerry Evans and Dr. Thomas Penders.
In the third clip the speakers were: David Wheeler, Carolyn Harding, Dr. Josh Tayloe and Dot Moate.
The fourth clip including: Dr. Russ Cook, Thomp Litchfield, Dr. Rachel McCarter and Dr. Richard Young.
Clip #5 contains Dr. Jack Callahan, Dr. Jon Tingelstad and Bob Scalf:
Clip #6 contains Velma Hickman, Tom Richter and Joyce Baker
The seventh and final video contains comments by Kathy Vasquez and two representatives of the Service Employees International Union, Michele McGinn and Mary Robinson and the closing comments by Board Chair Alice Mills Sadler.