Highlands-Cashiers Hospital signs memorandum of understanding with Mission Health

Press release


HIGHLANDS, N.C. (Aug. 30, 2013) ˆ Highlands-Cashiers Hospital (HCH) and Mission Health have finalized a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) for HCH to become a full-member hospital of Mission Health. Mission Health is North Carolina‚s sixth-largest health system and the region‚s only not-for-profit, independent community hospital system governed and managed exclusively in Western North Carolina.

The MOU authorizes the HCH Board of Trustees to move forward with necessary steps to complete negotiations regarding the proposed partnership. The action was unanimously recommended by the HCH Board‚s affiliation negotiation committee that has been leading the affiliation negotiations since last April.

The MOU outlines the major terms of the proposed relationship between HCH and Mission Health. The final due diligence and negotiation process will be started immediately, and it is anticipated that a definitive partnership agreement will be finalized at the completion of this process. Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the HCH Board of Trustees will maintain a strong, long-term voice in the strategic direction of the hospital. In addition to allowing additional due diligence and final negotiations to begin, the MOU outlines how the proposed relationship will meet the essential criteria established by the HCH Board of Trustees at the onset of the affiliation process. These criteria include the partner‚s willingness and ability to strengthen the quality of care provided at HCH, protect employees, improve the hospital‚s financial viability, enhance the services it provides, and collaborate with medical staff for the benefit of the health and wellness of the community.

“As the only locally owned and governed health system in our region, Mission Health exists solely to serve the residents of western North Carolina. In affiliating with Highlands, our goal is to ensure that high quality healthcare remains available close to home in Macon and Jackson counties,” said Ronald A. Paulus, MD, President and CEO of Mission Health. “We are proud to embrace this important step toward Highlands-Cashiers Hospital becoming a full member of the Mission Health family we can jointly pursue our BIG(GER) Aim: to get each patient to the desired outcome, first without harm, also without waste and with an exceptional experience for the patient and family.”

Mission Health and HCH will now enter into a more detailed, joint planning process to define and quantify the initiatives and resources that will be required to address existing and future needs of the HCH service area. The planning process will focus on capital requirements, medical service providers and new and expanded services. It will also drive the long-term investment plan for HCH facilities, providers and programs. The results of these joint planning efforts will be outlined in a definitive partnership agreement between HCH and Mission Health.

As part of a larger health system governed by and focused exclusively on western North Carolina, HCH will gain economies of scale, management expertise, physician recruiting support, and a host of other capabilities. Mission Health has the ability and expertise to support hospital management, employees and medical staff to grow existing healthcare services and expand access to specialty care.

“Both institutions share a mission to provide the best care possible to patients in the communities we serve. Aligning with Mission Health, one of our nation’s Top 15 Health Systems, will bring significant clinical and operational resources to the people of Macon and Jackson counties,” said Craig James, President and CEO of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. “Mission Health is invested in our community, and our membership with Mission Health positions us well for the future so that we can keep physicians in our local community, ensure that our facilities in Highlands and Cashiers remain current and continue to deliver the outstanding local care our patients have come to expect from their hospital.”

Charlie Sheehan, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Board Chairman said, “When we began this affiliation journey, our Board of Directors wanted to partner with an organization that was as committed to Western North Carolina as we were. Mission Health is an outstanding partner and healthcare provider. We couldn‚t be more pleased with how our relationship is developing ˆ the results will be exceptional for our hospital, and most importantly, for our community.”

As part of this affiliation, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Foundation will not become a subsidiary of Mission Health System and will remain under local ownership and control. It will continue to have the important responsibility of raising philanthropy exclusively to support Highlands-Cashiers Hospital and its operations throughout Macon, Jackson and surrounding Counties.

About Highlands-Cashiers Hospital
Highlands-Cashiers Hospital is a not-for-profit community hospital serving all people in need. Located on a mountain plateau, with the nearest hospital facility being 25 miles away on winding mountain roads, the hospital provides the facilities, staff and support services to offer diagnostic, surgical and acute patient care through onsite professional services or as a referral to regional support providers. Our emergency care is physician-staffed 24/7 and treats patients promptly, with personalized care and attention.

HCH has 39 Board Certified Physicians representing 16 medical specialties on its medical staff. Altogether, with its 24-bed acute care services, outpatient ancillary services, four hospital-owned physician clinics in Cashiers and Highlands, and 80-bed skilled nursing facility, HCH employs more than 200 employees. The HCH Foundation is known for a strong tradition of philanthropy to assure the Hospital is up-to-date with high quality services, facilities and equipment. You are invited to learn about our scope of services on our website at www.highlandscashiershospital.org.

About Mission Health
Mission Health, based in Asheville, N.C., is the state‚s sixth-largest health system and the region‚s only not-for-profit, independent community hospital system governed and managed exclusively in western North Carolina. Mission Health was recognized as one of the nation‚s Top 15 Health Systems in 2012 and 2013 by Thomson Reuters and Truven Health Analytics, respectively. Mission Health is one of only two medium-sized health systems to receive this recognition in 2012 and 2013, and the only health system in North Carolina to achieve that distinction.

Mission Health, which traces its roots in the region back to 1885, operates five hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers and the region‚s only dedicated Level II trauma center. Its medical staff consists of more than 1,000 physicians and is certified in more than 50 medical specialties and sub-specialties. Mission Health has seven Centers of Excellence: Cancer, Heart, Mission Children‚s Hospital, Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Trauma and Women‚s Health. Mission Hospital, located in Asheville, is the system‚s flagship hospital and is licensed for 795 beds. It is the regional referral center for tertiary and quaternary care. It also includes Mission Children‚s Hospital ˆ the region‚s only children‚s hospital. Other Mission Health member hospitals include Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, McDowell Hospital in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard. With approximately 8,800 employees and 700 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina. For more information, please visit mission-health.org.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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