Nash Health Care in Rocky Mount is the newest hospital to join the UNC Health System. Their affiliation agreement allows UNC to manage operations at Nash.
Nash Health CEO Larry Chewning will now be on UNC Health's payroll, but Nash will continue to be governed by its independent board of directors.
“One of the things that really excited us about the relationship with UNC is that we feel like we get most of the resources that hospitals that have been fully-merged into their system get, but yet we’re able to maintain local control and local governance of our community hospital here,” said Chewning.
Chewning said UNC and Nash will have increased access to equipment and medical discounts, and can share resources and best practices. Chewning said that’s especially important, as federal health care reform will penalize hospitals where Medicare recipients are frequently re-admitted.
Hospital mergers are accelerating as they navigate rising health care costs and Affordable Care Act requirements. But the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice worry about health care monopolies driving up patient costs.
David Strong is UNC's COO responsible for affiliate hospitals. He said the partnerships get more resources into rural communities. For example, Strong said, UNC's partnership with Johnston Health brought a radiation oncology clinic to Johnston County.
“So what you have is a patient who no longer has to drive to Raleigh or to Durham to receive services everyday twice a day, but they're able to stay in their community and receive that service,” Strong said. “And so, obviously, that saves time, money.”
Rex Health spokesman Alan Wolf adds that a larger system can bargain for cheaper medicine and equipment, and those savings are passed on to patients.