North Carolina employee association, New Hanover Regional pour money into competing ads

New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C., and a state employees association are battling it out in $445,000 worth of local ad buys partially related to the hospital's future governance structure, reports Port City Daily.

Advertising from the Raleigh-based State Employees Association of North Carolina, SEIU Local 2008, which represents 55,000 North Carolina workers, references a potential sale to an out-of-state for-profit corporation. New Hanover Regional Medical Center accuses the state employees' association of spreading misinformation about the hospital's plans. 

Four things to know about the story:

1. New Hanover Regional created an advisory group to research options for a sustainable future as an independent medical center. The advisory group's request for proposals called for a range of ideas, "from those that would be limited in scope and preserve local control and ownership to those that would be more comprehensive."  

2. The hospital is communicating with the public about the process and what is being considered through "low or no-cost channels" like its website, social media and speaking engagements, Carolyn Fisher, director of marketing and public relations, told Becker's Hospital Review. The hospital's ads direct people to the website to find meeting minutes, recordings and presentations.

3. New Hanover Regional believes the State Employees Association is spreading misinformation, according to Ms. Fisher. "They spent heavily in this market, attacking NHRMC and claiming that there is a plan to sell NHRMC to an out-of-state for-profit corporation. This is simply not true." As a result, the public does not have a clear picture of what is going on, according to Ms. Fisher. "We are hearing that many people still don't understand the reasons for the exploration or that the advisory group is exploring a full range of options beyond a sale," she said. 

4. A  State Employees Association commercial cites September coverage by TV station WECT of a county vote to approve an "intent to sell," which could result in a complete sale, new partnership(s) or maintaining local ownership, according to Port City Daily. Ardis Watkins, the union's director of government affairs, told the newspaper there has also been repeated discussion in the hospital advisory group meetings of potential buyers and partners, including out-of-state for-profit companies. He said he hopes the union's messaging, which also addresses hospital pricing, is seen as public education.

Read the full report here.  


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