Mission Health moves chemotherapy out of rural areas 

Mission Health is relocating some cancer services out of rural areas to Asheville, N.C., effective Sept. 3, according to the Citizen Times. 

Mission's chemotherapy locations in four towns — Franklin, Brevard, Marion and Spruce Pine — will be centralized and moved to Asheville, where the system is headquartered. It will move non-chemotherapy infusion services onto hospital campuses at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Mission Hospital McDowell in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard.

Rural community members who accessed Mission's cancer care will be left with an independent oncology group, Messino Cancer Centers, as their local option for services that Mission is moving away. The group was founded by physicians who split from Mission in January, and it offers the majority of the treatments Mission had provided.

Bob Scott, the mayor of Franklin, criticized the change as part of Mission's gradual reduction of rural healthcare. 

"I really would rather see some of these bailout funds and profits and all coming back into our hospital in our town, because that’s where people get sick," he told the Citizen Times. "It appears that it's a little bit of a chipping away of all the services that we've always enjoyed out here with Angel Community Hospital and then it became Angel Medical Center and now … it's becoming sort of a triage area to send folks on over to Asheville." 

Asheville is approximately 60 miles away from Franklin. 

HCA Healthcare, a for-profit hospital operator based in Nashville, Tenn., acquired Mission in February 2019. HCA has received $1 billion in grants made available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, according to Reuters.

A Mission spokesperson told the Citizen Times that many patients have chosen to stay with Messino Cancer Centers for care after those physicians left the Mission system in January 2020, and those "additional care options have created less of a need for similar services at some of [Mission's] facilities."

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