UNC to buy Chatham Hospital
UNC Health Care signed paperwork Tuesday to purchase control of Chatham Hospital in Siler City for $11.3 million, which the company has managed the hospital since 2006. Chatham Hospital chief ex-ecutive officer Carol Straight said in an interview Tuesday although UNC Health Care now owns the facility, Chatham Hospital will still operate as a private, not-for-private hospital.
The new ownership will not result in any lay-offs, and the hospital's Board of Trustees will continue to manage day-to-day operation. However, a new board will be implemented soon and will meet for the first time in August. Straight said approximately eight members of the 15-person board will be UNC Health Care employees.
The board will consist of the following five appointees from the existing Chatham Hospital board: Dr. Mark Gwynne, Chatham chief of staff and UNC Health Care-owned Chatham Primary Care; Chatham resident Gabriel Soltren; former Chatham commissioner Margaret Pollard; present Board of Trustees chair Laura Clapp and local businessman Barry Wilkie. The following five Chatham County appointees are also proposed: Dr. Tim Wiener, UNC pediatric surgeon; Chatham County internist, Dr. Mark Zeringue, UNC Hospi-tals senior vice president Mel Hurston and Chatham County representatives Barry Hayes and Charles Johnson.
The following UNC Health Care employees will also be added to the board: UNC Health Care senior vice presi-dent Mary Beck, Chatham Hospital chief executive officer Carol Straight, UNC vice president of ambulatory care Dr. Al Daugird, UNC Hospital executive vice president Todd Peterson and UNC Health Care chief financial officer John Lewis. She added that Chatham Hospital's bylaws will be re-written. "The board handled the sale of the hospital," Straight said Tuesday. "I was not involved with the process, as I am a UNC Health Care employee and my involvement would have been a conflict of interest."
She added the Board's by-laws were suspended last year, as members prepared for the hospital's transition and new board. "I am unsure at the moment who will be president of the board but I know there will be one," she said. In addition to acquiring 100 percent control of Chatham Hospital, UNC Health Care will assume control of the hospital's $34.7 million in liabilities, transfer $2 million to the hospital and commit $9.3 million to develop health care services in Chatham County over the next seven years.
Initial priorities include building medical office space, expansion of radiology services and improvement of the hospital's computer information systems. Straight added the Board of Trustees will decide what the $2 million will be used for. "We need an information system," she said. "This is our top priority. "Building a medical office building will be our second priority." She said the $2 million will not be used to retire Chatham Hospital's debt. "Our operating income and ongoing philanthropy campaign will help pay for the debt," she said.
Straight addressed new uses for Chatham Hospital's old facility. "We are still looking for uses for the building but all of our attempts to sell it have failed," she said. "We are now looking for an occupant who will provide services to the town of Siler City. "The Board of Trustees and I hope we can find another use, as we are not interested in leaving another eyesore for the town." On July 28, Chatham Hospital will open for the first time at its new location in Central Carolina Business Park. The new facility is a 25-bed hospital and replaces the 58-year-old building the hospital now occupies.
ABOUT UNC HEALTH CARE
The UNC Health Care System is a not-for-profit integrated health care system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill. It exists to further the teaching mission of the University of North Carolina and to provide state-of-the-art patient care. UNC Health Care is comprised of UNC Hospitals, which is ranked among the top 50 in the nation in six specialties by U.S. News & World Report and ranked one of the country's 41 best on the Leapfrog 2007 Top Hospitals list; the UNC School of Medicine, a nationally eminent research institution; community practices; home health and hospice services in seven central North Carolina counties; and Rex Healthcare and its provider network in Wake County.