Years from now, the decision in 2018 by the directors of Mission Health to sell to HCA Healthcare might be seen as a brilliant strategic maneuver, one that guaranteed affordable, high-quality healthcare for future generations of western North Carolinians. This was, and still is, the position of the directors and executives who pushed the deal. In return for giving up its independence, local control, and century-long legacy as a nonprofit providing quality care for the benefit of local residents, Mission accepted a $1.5 billion offer from HCA, the biggest hospital chain in the country. As a public company, HCA is required by law to prioritize profit-making for its shareholders. The money from the sale was designated to fund a new nonprofit, the Asheville-based Dogwood Health Trust.READ MORE >
The news stunned Asheville and Western North Carolina, where Mission Health System Inc. was the area’s largest employer, its main healthcare provider, and a long-time source of civic pride. Seemingly out of the blue, Mission’s directors publicly announced on March 21, 2018, that they had voted to sell the 133-year-old nonprofit to HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain, for an estimated $1.5 billion. “To say that [Mission’s] announcement … was a surprise would be an understatement,” the Asheville Citizen Times observed in an editorial. “There has not been the slightest hint anything was afoot until Mission announced that its board had approved the deal unanimously.”
Coming Thursday: A smaller, less-profitable nonprofit hospital system in North Carolina sells for $2 billion, plus $3.1 billion in additional commitments — more than double what Mission negotiated with HCA.
“The first I learned about the Mission sale was when it was publicly announced that it was under contract with HCA,” Esther Manheimer, Asheville’s mayor, told AVL Watchdog. “It was explained to me later that the negotiations were confidential.”
Confidential indeed.READ MORE >
This story has been updated to reflect the latest Covid-19 cases from the state. Kathie Carnahan nursed her husband through two major surgeries, watched helplessly as dementia robbed the once vibrant attorney of the ability to speak, and made the gut-wrenching decision to place him in an Asheville nursing home. But nothing compared to the pair of phone calls the family received two weeks ago from administrators at Aston Park Health Care Center. The first brought the news she had dreaded: Covid-19 had entered the nursing home. And then: her beloved Burt was infected.READ MORE >
This story is being updated as new information becomes available. It began with one employee falling ill from the coronavirus. By Friday morning, just 11 days later, more than 55 elderly and infirmed residents at the Aston Park Health Care Center in southwest Asheville and at least 30 of its staff had tested positive.
Four residents had died and one was hospitalized. “We have some that are very, very sick,” said Executive Director Marsha Kaufman. “It’s hitting those patients that have been declining and are really weak and compromised, the worst.”
Coronavirus is sweeping through North Carolina nursing homes, claiming an astonishing toll of more than 400 dead.READ MORE >
The biggest health crisis in a lifetime hit Asheville shortly after the one-year anniversary of the biggest upheaval in local healthcare: the $1.5 billion sale of the nonprofit Mission Health System to HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital management chain. The transition from local nonprofit to profit-hungry behemoth has not gone smoothly, and not just because of the coronavirus. Now, as Mission Health begins to reopen for elective surgeries and procedures put on hold during the first wave of the ongoing pandemic, the unresolved question that roiled the community just three months ago remains: Was HCA’s purchase of Mission Health healthy for Asheville? Three months now seems a very long time ago, but just before the pandemic arrived — before the lawns on Mission Health were decorated with “Heroes Work Here” signs and before citizens cheered the front-line health professionals risking everything on their behalf — hundreds of area residents and local officials said they did not think so. HCA reported to attorney general that Mission Health provided more than $260 million in charity care in first year … and raised prices 10 percent.READ MORE >