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HCA deal doesn't deter 24-bed hospital from keeping Mission Health affiliation

Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, a 24-bed acute care facility in Highlands, N.C., will stick with Asheville, N.C.-based Mission Health as Mission pursues a sale agreement with one of the nation's largest hospital chains, according to Blue Ridge Public Radio.

The regional hospital, bought by Mission Health in 2014, has an "unwind" clause in its contract stating the 24-bed hospital may dissolve its relationship with Mission Health if the system is sold within 10 years of the sale.

However, during a meeting last week the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital board voted not to use the clause and opted to stay with Mission Health, the report states.

In March, Mission Health revealed plans to negotiate a sale with Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare. While the deal has not been finalized, officials reportedly said they will have a contract for negotiation in August, Blue Ridge Public Radio reports.

Some community officials have expressed concern over the proposed deal, arguing it could end badly for Highlands-Cashier Hospital if HCA opts to close the facility if it becomes financially taxing.

Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor told Blue Ridge Public Radio potentially losing its hospital may deter people from moving into the community.

"The question is how long will it be before there might be a reassessment by Hospital Corporation of America where they say, 'Economically this isn't good for us' and they either close the hospital here in Highlands or Cashiers down? Or they sell it to some other corporation," he said. "As the mayor of this community, my concern is that if we lose good access to healthcare — that impacts the desirability of people to reside in this community."

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