Mergers and acquisitions

Pardee in the middle? If a management deal with UNC Health Care moves forward, Henderson County’s Pardee Hospital will join other small facilities that have partnered with bigger systems in recent years. photo by Chris Wood

Last month, Angel Medical Center, a small hospital in Franklin, announced a partnership with Mission Health System. Angel CEO Tim Hubbs told Xpress that the 80-bed facility needed help to survive and thrive in today's health market. Other small hospitals in the region have taken similar measures: Three WNC hospitals partnered with the Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System and took on the MedWest name; McDowell and Blue Ridge hospitals partnered with Mission, and now Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville appears poised to make an agreement with the state-owned UNC Health Care, which is affiliated with the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

But still under discussion is a side deal with Mission for a $45 million outpatient facility in Fletcher, the Hendersonville Times-News has reported.

These developments haven't been simple: the Henderson County commissioners used their oversight authority to require Pardee’s board to get their approval before hiring a new CEO or partnering with other health systems (the county owns Pardee; the commissioners appoint its board but don’t fund or manage it). The commissioners recently relented, however, and Pardee board members say they're close to announcing their pick.

They're also close to sealing the management deal with UNC Health, the Times-News reported June 8. UNC Health Care officials have "expressed support for the [Mission] joint venture," the paper stated.

Recognition and support for caregivers

Do you provide home care for an elderly family member or know someone who does? If so, you've got more and more company these days. A 2009 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving estimates that more than 65 million Americans provide care for family members at home. And that number is expected to double, in part because by 2030, one in four North Carolinians is expected to be at least 60 years old.

To recognize the thousands of family members taking such actions and caring for loved ones, the home-care agency has teamed up with the National Family Caregivers Association to launch the annual Family Caregiver of the Year awards program.

Three local winners will be selected from Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties. Each will receive eight hours of free respite care, assorted cash and gift awards, and a one-year scholarship to Homewatch CareGivers University, a fully accredited online university. The top local winner will be eligible for the $10,000 cash grand prize.

“This is one small way to thank these dedicated caregivers and to give something back for their tireless efforts,” explains Ernie Konkoli, who owns Homewatch CareGivers of WNC.

Nominations can be submitted through Friday, July 29, at www.homewatchcaregivers.com, or at the local Homewatch CareGivers office (1977 Hendersonville Road in Asheville). Local winners of the Family Caregiver of the Year award will be announced Sept. 1; the national winner will be announced Nov. 1.

On June 7, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners proclaimed June to be "Vulnerable Adults and Elder Abuse Awareness Month." Last year, North Carolina’s 100 county social-services departments received more than 18,000 reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable and elder adults, the proclamation notes. Better training and awareness for caregivers and the difficulties they face will help prevent abuse, experts say.

Minority Medical Mentoring Program announces grads


Of the 900 physicians actively practicing medicine in Buncombe County, barely 3 percent are minorities.

Enter the Minority Medical Mentoring Program, an internship opportunity for high-school seniors with a serious interest in becoming a physician, pharmacist or dentist. This year, six local students have completed the program: T.C. Roberson seniors Robert Underwood, Pratik Patel, Tijuan Brown, Danielle James and Kaylor Alexander, and Asheville High's Charity Johnson.

The program is a collaborative initiative of the Western Carolina Medical Society (formerly the Buncombe County Medical Society) MAHEC, the Asheville-Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement and Mission Health System.

Underwood is pursuing a career in sports medicine and plans to major in athletic training with a minor in psychology at East Carolina University. Patel wants to become a family-medicine physician and is attending Western Carolina University. Brown wants to become a hospice/palliative-care doctor and is attending East Carolina University. James wishes to be a neurosurgeon and will be attending UNC-Greensboro. Johnson dreams of becoming an OB/GYN and will be attending Meredith College, majoring in chemistry with a minor in nursing. Alexander aspires to be a cardiologist and will be attending UNC-Charlotte and majoring in biology.

For further information on MMMP, contact Jacquelyn Hallum at MAHEC (257-4479; Jacquelyn.hallum@mahec.net) or Miriam Schwarz, CEO of the Medical Society (274-2267; ceo@bcmsonline.org).

— Send your health-and-wellness news to mxhealth@mountainx.com or news@mountainx.com, or call News Editor Margaret Williams at 251-1333, ext. 152.I

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