WestCare Health System signs memorandum of understanding with Duke LifePoint Healthcare

Press Release

From WestCare Health System:

Sylva, NC (December 10, 2013) – The WestCare Health System Board of Trustees today announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding to be acquired by Duke LifePoint Healthcare. The potential partnership will provide WestCare’s hospitals, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital, additional resources to grow and strengthen their operations for the future.

“Our board is very pleased to take the next step in exploring a potential relationship with Duke LifePoint Healthcare,” said Bunny Johns, chair of the WestCare Board of Trustees. “As part of Duke LifePoint, WestCare’s hospitals would have access to support and resources to weather the changing healthcare environment, expand our services, recruit new physicians, offer more opportunities for employees, and continue to serve our communities with the level of care and patient experience they deserve. We are excited to learn more about Duke LifePoint and how our organizations could collaborate.”

The memorandum of understanding is a non-binding agreement that outlines the terms upon which WestCare and Duke LifePoint may move forward to finalize the proposed acquisition. Following a due diligence and negotiation process, which is projected to take 60-90 days, the parties intend to enter into a definitive agreement. The agreement would then be subject to review by the Attorney General of North Carolina before being finalized.

“We evaluated partnerships with several organizations and ultimately chose Duke LifePoint because it aligned with our strategic priorities, including positioning WestCare to reach its full potential in serving its communities, and shared our commitments to community involvement, charity care, strong physician and employee relationships and quality care,” said Steve Heatherly, WestCare Health System President and CEO.
Becoming part of Duke LifePoint offers many benefits to WestCare’s communities. The organization would become a local taxpayer, providing an important source of new tax revenue to support the local economy. Additionally, proceeds from the acquisition would retire WestCare’s financial obligations and fund a locally-governed charitable foundation to support crucial community needs.
“Duke LifePoint is committed to partnering with community hospitals to strengthen their operations, improve their clinical and quality programs and help them provide excellent healthcare close to home,” said William J. Fulkerson, Jr., MD, Executive Vice President of Duke University Health System. “We believe that we have a great opportunity to work together with the Harris Regional and Swain County teams to enhance healthcare throughout western North Carolina.”
As part of Duke LifePoint, WestCare would have access to nationally recognized clinical, safety, quality and operations experts. It also would have the ability to collaborate and share ideas and best practices with staff at nearly 60 peer community hospitals in 20 states through the LifePoint system.

“We are excited at the prospect of partnering with the dedicated board, management team, clinical staff and employees at WestCare to strengthen their hospitals for the future,” said LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William F. Carpenter III. “We seek to be a collaborative partner with Harris Regional and Swain County and look forward to exploring this proposed partnership further in the weeks to come.”

Founded in 2011, Duke LifePoint is a joint venture of Duke University Health System and LifePoint Hospitals. It currently operates four hospitals and a company that offers hospital-based catheterization labs and mobile catheterization services:
• Maria Parham Medical Center, Henderson, NC
• Person Memorial Hospital, Roxboro, NC
• Twin County Regional Healthcare, Galax, VA
• Marquette General Health System, Marquette, MI
• DLP Cardiac Partners, Charlotte, NC

The organization also has signed memoranda of understanding to explore affiliations with Wilson Medical Center in Wilson, NC, and Rutherford Regional Medical Center in Rutherfordton, NC.

About WestCare Health System
WestCare Health System was formed through a partnership of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital in 1997 and serves Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties with primary and subspecialty care, outpatient facilities and urgent care.

About Duke LifePoint Healthcare
Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System, Inc. and LifePoint Hospitals® (NASDAQ: LPNT), was established to build a dynamic network of hospitals and healthcare providers. The joint venture, which brings together LifePoint’s experience in community-based hospital management and Duke’s world-renowned leadership in clinical service, is strengthening and improving healthcare delivery by providing community hospitals the clinical, quality and operational resources they need to grow and prosper. For additional information, visit www.dukelifepointhealthcare.com….

About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton@gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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