The Transylvania Times -

Public Raises Concerns About Hospital Care – Transylvania County, NC


February 13, 2020

Ronald Winters, with PR firm Gibbins Advisors, fielded questions from the public at Tuesday's meeting. (Times photos by Matt McGregor)

A health care consulting firm called Gibbins Advisors met with community exasperation at a town hall meeting in Brevard Tuesday regarding what many reported as a reduction in quality of care at Transylvania Regional Hospital (TRH), now owned by HCA Healthcare.

The meeting was held at the Unitarian Universalists of Transylvania County, where people asked questions and made comments about their experiences at TRH since HCA's acquisition.

Ronald Winters, principal and cofounder of Gibbins Advisors, presented the firm's role in the transition at the event.

The firm was appointed as the "independent monitor" last October, with its contract is renewable annually each August.

Winters said the firm is neither connected to HCA nor being paid by them, but paid by Dogwood Health Trust (DHT) and ANC Healthcare (formerly Mission Health).

Among other requirements outlined, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein necessitated an "independent monitor" as a part of the approval of the purchase "to ensure that quality health care continue."

"The Attorney General said, because it was an acquisition of a nonprofit by a for-profit, that the seller representative, ANC Healthcare, ultimately Dogwood Health Trust, be obligated to enforce compliance, and we were hired by them (ANC and DHT) to assist them in advising them as to whether or not compliance has occurred," Winters said.

Billing issues, layoffs and quality were among the problems discussed and fielded by Winters, who said the firm records the questions and concerns, transcribes them and then sends them to HCA.

The nonprofit Mission Health system, now called ANC Healthcare, is a six-hospital system that includes TRH, and was acquired by the for-profit HCA for $1.5 billion in 2019.

The first question raised by a speaker was why the Transitional Care Unit (TCU) was allegedly closed last July.

"What are folks supposed to do," she asked Winters. "This is bull. We need TCU in this county. We have an aging population. We have lots of hip and knee replacements. The care has gone down. Go down there and look at the floors. The staff has been reduced. When my sister was there, there was one nurse in ICU. They were all gone. It's wrong."

There were several more people in the meeting who later spoke, saying that the facility was closed.

Winters said he "had not been told that it had closed," but that it was a part of a required service that falls under the scope of the firm's investigation into compliance by HCA, among them being "keeping material facilities open for at least 10 years" and "continuing specified services for 10 years."

The Transylvania Times contacted HCA about the TCU.

Karen Vernon, a HCA communications director, said the TCU's services are still available to the public.

More from the meeting will appear in Monday's paper.


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