Dogwood requests independent monitor proposals for HCA

RSVP: Dogwood Health Trust announced Jan. 2 it is seeking proposals to provide independent monitor services to oversee HCA Healthcare. Photo by Jen Castillo

Dogwood Health Trust announced Jan. 2 it is seeking a request for proposals to provide independent monitor, or IM, services to oversee HCA Healthcare.

HCA purchased the nonprofit Mission Hospital for $1.5 billion in 2019, and the nonprofit Dogwood Health Trust was formed as part of the sale. In its asset purchase agreement, HCA made 15 commitments regarding health care services, and it also established the role of an IM. Dogwood is tasked with selecting the IM with consent from HCA and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein.

Stein selected Gibbins Advisors, a Nashville-based health care operations and restructuring consultancy, as the IM following the sale. Gibbins Advisors and its CEO, Ronald Winters, faced tense community meetings in Western North Carolina. At an Oct. 19 meeting in Asheville, Dr. Robert Kline, a former member of Mission Hospital’s board of directors, read a letter signed by dozens of current and former physicians expressing concerns over patient care.

“In response to listening to our communities and through collaboration with the Attorney General’s Office, Dogwood has asked the IM to add responsibilities beyond what is in the current scope of work,” Dogwood spokesperson Erica Allison told Xpress in a statement. “The additional responsibilities Dogwood asked Gibbins to undertake this past year, in particular those related to community engagement and education and engagement with the Attorney General’s Office, exceed those required under the Asset Purchase Agreement.”

The request for proposals is at, and a statement of work is at Dogwood will accept proposals through 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6. The selection of the proposed IM is expected to be announced by April 1.

Xpress could not reach Winters from Gibbins Advisors for comment by press time. “We look forward to working with whomever is selected,” Mission Health spokesperson Nancy Lindell told Xpress in a statement.

Pisgah Legal offers insurance help

Certified health care navigators with Pisgah Legal Services can assist individuals and families with open enrollment in the Marketplace. Following North Carolina’s Medicaid expansion on Dec. 1, thousands of residents may be available for health care coverage.

Consumers have until Tuesday, Jan. 16, to choose a plan, and if consumers meet that deadline, coverage will begin Thursday, Feb. 1. Pisgah Legal offers bilingual navigators for Spanish speakers, and free translation services are available for speakers of other languages.

Contact Pisgah Legal at 828-210-3404 or at to make an appointment.

Double SNAP benefits expand

Benefits are increasing for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, at farmers markets and groceries in January.

Now when shoppers use SNAP/EBT cards at any farmers market information booth, they’ll receive additional SNAP tokens for fresh fruits and vegetables sold at that market. Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project is expanding the Double SNAP for Fruits and Vegetables program in partnership with MountainWise, a project of Macon County Public Health, and the nonprofit Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture.

The expansion is already in effect at some participating farmers markets and groceries, and the three organizations will announce additional participating sites in the spring. The partnership is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Dogwood Health Trust, MANNA FoodBank and other organizations.

More information about local farmers markets, using SNAP at farmers markets and the Double SNAP for Fruits and Vegetables program is available at

Novant Health opens surgical services

Novant Health Surgical Partners has opened at 80 Peachtree Road, Suite 210, and specializes in general surgery; surgical oncology; breast, colorectal and endocrine surgery; colonoscopies and robotic surgery. The clinic is a partnership between Drs. Paul Ahearne, Colin Bird, Benjamin Deschner, Ioanna Mazotas and Melissa Zoumberos. For more information, call 828-378-5600 or visit

Impact Health seeks board nominations

Impact Health, a startup created by nonprofit Dogwood Health Trust, is seeking nominations for its board of directors. Impact Health leads Western North Carolina’s participation in the Healthy Opportunities Pilot for Medicaid. The HOP focuses on the following social determinants of health: nutrition, transportation, housing and safety.

Nominations for the board of directors can be made at

Pardee BlueMD opens in Hendersonville

Pardee BlueMD, a primary care practice of UNC Health Pardee serving patients ages 5 and older, opened at 1027 Fleming St., Hendersonville. As a federally qualified health center in partnership with Blue Ridge Health, it will provide services to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. Sliding scale fees are also available. To schedule an appointment, call  828-435-8140.

Warren Wilson receives mental health grant

Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa is one of 13 liberal arts colleges nationwide to receive a grant for student mental health and well-being from the New York City-based nonprofit The Endeavor Foundation. Warren Wilson will receive $100,000 this year and $75,000 next year for initiatives to integrate mental health and wellness into student learning, including expanded mental health services and restorative justice practices.

Winter hiking challenge announced

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy announced its 2024 Winter Hiking Challenge: to traverse 60 miles between Monday, Jan. 1, and Friday, March 1. Participants can hike, walk or run in any location and at any pace. SAHC will send periodic emails with suggested hiking locations in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Registration for the challenge is $25 per person and will support the conservancy’s work; free registration can be accessed with the coupon code SAHC2024. Those who complete the challenge will receive a commemorative patch from SAHC. Participants can register and record their results at

Community kudos

  • Mountain Area Health Education Center has named Dr. Amy Russell as its first chief medical and population health officer. Russell was previously medical director for Mission Health Partners and a member of MAHEC’s family medicine faculty.
  • The UNC School of Medicine Asheville has appointed Dr. Sandra Whitlock as associate dean and program director. She joined as assistant program director in 2015.
  • Family physician Dr. S. Mark McNeill was installed as president-elect of the N.C. Academy of Family Physicians.
  • WNC Community Health Services announced that Dr. Wade Davis, an HIV specialist, and Dr. Olivia Buckoski, an HIV pharmacist, obtained certification from the American Academy of HIV Medicine, an organization specializing in advanced HIV care and prevention. HIV specialist Dr. S. Todd Wallenius has been credentialed again for three years.
  • Internal medicine physician Dr. Kristen Lee has joined Pardee BlueMD, 712 Fleming St., and family medicine physician assistants Brooke Fowler and Kate Thompson have joined Pardee BlueMD, 611 Fifth Ave. W. Both practices are in Hendersonville.
  • Mission Health welcomed two otolaryngologists, Drs. Paul Davis and Steven Dennis, to Head and Neck Specialists of WNC. The new practice addresses cancers in the head and neck regions, including membranes of the mouth, throat, sinuses and nose, the thyroid gland and the salivary glands.

Mark your calendars

  • Children’s author Jennifer Fae will read her book, a guided meditation titled My Big Heart, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11, at Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood St. Kindergartners through fifth graders and their caregivers are welcome. For more information contact
  • A free tai chi for arthritis class will be held 11 a.m.-noon, Tuesday, Jan. 16, at Grove Street Community Center, 36 Grove St. The class was developed by medical professionals to improve flexibility, strength and balance and reduce the risk of falls. For more information, contact Brea Kuykendall at 828-251-7438 or
  • The Council on Aging Senior Dining and Wellness Program will offer eligible adults a free hot lunch noon-1 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 17, 24 and 31, at Linwood Crump Shiloh Community Center, 121 Shiloh Road. The lunch is an opportunity to socialize and connect to health and wellness programs. Register at 828-277-8288.
  • The YWCA Mobile Market will distribute free fresh food 2-3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14, at Leicester Library, 1561 Alexander Road. All are welcome regardless of income or family size; no paperwork is required. For more information, contact or call 828-250-6480.
  • Registration is open for the 2024 Valentine Greenway Challenge, which begins at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, at Black Mountain Recreation & Parks Offices, 304 Black Mountain Ave. The 5K goes through Veterans Park via the Oaks Trail. The Black Mountain Greenways and Trails Committee will receive all sponsorships and 50% of all registration fees from the race. To register visit

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About Jessica Wakeman
Jessica Wakeman is an Asheville-based reporter for Mountain Xpress. She has been published in Rolling Stone, Glamour, New York magazine's The Cut, Bustle and many other publications. She was raised in Connecticut and holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism from New York University. Follow me @jessicawakeman

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