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Nash pans hospital purchase

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Nash County Board of Commissioners wants Nash UNC Health Care to hold off purchasing the only long-term acute care hospital in Rocky Mount.

LifeCare’s parent company, LifeCare Health Partners, filed for Chapter 11 in order to restructure its debt, leaving uncertain the fate of LifeCare, the company’s only such property in the state. LifeCare is looking for buyers, and at a June meeting Nash UNC officials expressed interest in purchasing the hospital. Nash UNC Health Care already owns the building it is using.

Nash County board Chairman Robbie Davis said he thought the hospital would not get involved in any other major projects until it was in better financial shape.

“We need to let the (hospital) board know we have concerns,” Davis said, speaking on Monday during a county board meeting.

Commissioner Fred Belfield questioned the commissioners’ authority in the matter.

“We own the hospital,” Davis told him.

The county board agreed to advise the hospital board against purchasing LifeCare.

Nash Commissioner Sue Leggett is in line to join the hospital board, possibly as soon as the hospital board meets at 4:30 today in the board room of the main hospital.

Hospital officials said the local LifeCare is profitable and would make a good purchase.

It is in the best interest of the community to protect the only long-term acute care option in the area, said Shawn Hartley, Nash UNC’s chief financial officer.

“It is such a huge part of what this community needs and how we serve our patients. And with the continuum of care here, we don’t like the risk of someone we don’t know taking over that operation,” Hartley said during the June hospital board meeting. He said he did not yet know how much the potential purchase could cost.

Some members of the hospital board already have expressed caution.

Dr. Ivan Peacock said Nash UNC should not make a hasty decision to buy LifeCare in light of the hospital’s current financial situation.

Nash UNC is on track to lose about $11.5 million in operational income this fiscal year, a big improvement over the $25.6 million lost in the 2018-19 fiscal year.