Two long-time members of the Transylvania Regional Hospital board of directors resigned Monday, saying they were “embarrassed” to have supported the sale of the Mission Health System to giant HCA Healthcare and that they now fear for the future of the Brevard-based community hospital under HCA’s profit-driven management.
In an open letter to The Transylvania Times, the board members, Parker Platt and Mark Weinstein, said they had been sidelined and rendered “powerless” and “voiceless” by the HCA-dominated board. “It is our hope that our resignations might have a more positive influence on the hospital’s future direction than if we remained on the board,” they wrote.
Asked by The Watchdog to comment on Platt’s and Weinstein’s resignations, a hospital spokeswoman said, “We thank them for their service.”
The resignations highlight growing community dissatisfaction with HCA’s operation of the 92-bed, 600-employee community hospital, which joined the Mission Health System in 2011 and which HCA acquired as part of the surprise $1.5 billion sale of Mission Health in 2019. HCA also acquired Mission Hospital in Asheville plus four other hospitals and numerous clinics in western North Carolina.
Earlier this year at least 15 doctors and other healthcare providers — “the majority of the county’s doctors,” according to The Transylvania Times — abruptly left the Mission Health System in Transylvania County, either because they refused to sign new pay-cutting contracts offered by HCA or because they were terminated.
In February, the Brevard City Council took the unusual step of appealing to North Carolina’s Attorney General, Josh Stein, to investigate the “exodus” of veteran doctors from the HCA Mission system in Transylvania County. Stein approved the sale of the nonprofit Mission Health System to for-profit HCA, despite uncovering “issues and concerns” involving Mission principals leading up to the sale.
Platt is an architect and president of Platt, an architecture, construction, and interior design firm in Brevard; Weinstein is president and chief executive of the Brevard Music Center. They gave permission to Asheville Watchdog to republish their letter, below:
“Both of us have decided to resign from the Transylvania Regional Hospital (TRH) Board.
“Together, we have taken some time to reflect on our time on the board (combined total of 10 years) and our reasons for serving. Those reasons have centered around care for our community, the essential role of the hospital in the community, and a deep respect for the tireless work and accomplishments of those who served before us and those who are still giving it their all after many years.
“We were both enthusiastic about the sale to Mission Hospital and the subsequent sale to HCA given the broader connections and capacity and the promise of the long-term positive impact of the resulting health trust. To say the reality of the current situation is a disappointment to us is an understatement.
“It is clear now (and maybe should have been from the beginning) that the TRH board has no real ability to play any kind of impactful role. In almost all instances, from the essentials of staff and community relations to marketing, to the mass exodus of our physicians, our inability to provide direction or influence decisions have been apparent.
“It appears to us that the board is simply around because it is “required to be” and it serves as a rubber stamp for Quality and Credentials reports prepared by others. It is ideally seen but not heard. That’s a real shame because there are smart, connected and insightful folks giving important time to this board who have in the past and could continue to make a big difference for the hospital.
“Ultimately, both of us feel generally out of the loop, powerless, voiceless and definitely unessential. At this point we are embarrassed to have been vocally supportive of the sale, to be affiliated in such a meaningless way, and to be providing whatever credibility we might have by simply being around.
“Indeed, in our judgment, and not based on any confidential information we have received as board members, the very nature of a “for profit” based hospital in Transylvania County is in serious question.
“We continue to support our local hospital as an important and vital part of our community. But we fear for its future. It is our hope that our resignations might have a more positive influence on the hospital’s future direction than if we remained on the board. — Parker Platt and Mark Weinstein