A situation with some finality … we hope
It has been ongoing for over a year now and we hope it is coming to an end.
This week, Rutherford Regional Health System (RRHS) announced its Board of Trustees have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Duke LifePoint on a joint venture.
The belief is the venture will eradicate the debt of the hospital and add the services of Duke LifePoint as a physician recruiter/retainer and the medical expertise of Duke University Hospital.
But, before we are quick to sound the trumpets on the deal, we look back to the past.
In January 2013, RRHS announced a memorandum of understanding had been signed for a partnership with Mission Health in Asheville.
Supposedly, the deal would have brought the same stability and viability to the hospital that this latest announcement suggests.
However, months into negotiations, Mission and RRHS elected to withdraw from the negotiations, leaving RRHS back at square one.
Credit has to be given to the RRHS Board of Trustees for working quickly in the face of adversity to find another valid partner for services and economic stability.
But we hope the issues of past negotiations don't rear their ugly head as RRHS begins the process with Duke LifePoint.
Whether it is a changing health climate, local control or the economics of the deal, RRHS has to be flexible to allow for shared control and for its future.
This week's announcement, we hope, is the end of one chapter for RRHS and the beginning of a partnership that will make RRHS a leader in rural health care.
This community wants a hospital it can be proud of. A hospital that places a high value on the care and treatment of its patients as well as its physicians and staff.
We sincerely hope that a partnership with Duke LifePoint will enhance those two key elements to making our hospital successful.
To us, it is more than just about the economics and how much Duke LifePoint is willing to help erase the debt of our hospital. It is about providing quality care for patients and, with that, making sure those patients have access to the best and brightest in the medical field.
A "healthy" hospital means a healthy community and we encourage RRHS and its Board to enter into these negotiations with an open mind and a sense of what is best for the community.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark