Public indicates loss of confidence in HCA-acquired North Carolina hospital; staff feedback sought

Brevard, N.C.-based Transylvania Regional Hospital is asking staff to share their experiences after the hospital was acquired by Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare and feedback from the community revealed a loss of confidence, The Transylvania Times reported Oct. 23. 

HCA acquired Asheville, N.C.-based Mission Health, the hospital's parent system, in 2019, according to the newspaper. In 2021, the public became concerned about HCA's acquisition after many providers were terminated from the hospital, and others refused to sign new contracts with Mission Health; two members of the hospital's board of trustees resigned, saying the board could no longer impact the hospital's future.

Since then, HCA has faced three antitrust lawsuits accusing it of being anti-competitive — including one from the hospital's home city, Brevard. During the spring of 2022, Brevard's mayor called a meeting with Sam Hazen, CEO of HCA, to share the community's concerns. She asked if the community could buy the hospital back from HCA, and Mr. Hazen said that was not possible, the newspaper reported. 

During the meeting between Mayor Maureen Copelofand Mr. Hazen, the Transylvania Regional Hospital Community Council was conceived, according to the newspaper. In August, the council held 10 public listening sessions, inviting the community to share their experiences post-acquisition. 

Ninety percent of attendees said they elected to go elsewhere for treatment, the newspaper reported. Attendees expressed concerns with billing problems and rising costs and the loss of physicians, which led to long wait times and ER transfer delays.

"People have lost confidence, they've lost trust with [Transylvania Regional Hospital]. Rightfully or wrongly, that happened. So that is foreboding no matter how you feel about HCA," Mark Weinstein, council member and former member of the hospital board, said. 

Now, the hospital is seeking feedback from current and former staff, who are encouraged to contact council members anonymously via email. 

"We would love to hear from the healthcare professionals who have either left for various reasons or are still working there and are trying to deal with some of these issues," said Ms. Copelof, who is also on the council. "Do they see the same issues that the patients are seeing?"

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