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'A concerning number,' Attorney General describes recent Mission Health complaints filed

Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)
Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)
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News 13 has learned that over a recent 12-month period, 116 people filed complaints to the North Carolina Attorney General's office about Mission Health.

As we've reported, Attorney General Josh Stein approved the sale of Mission to HCA Healthcare back in 2019. That sale included certain agreements that HCA must keep in order to stay in compliance.

News 13 learned that while the number of concerns seem to be dropping, AG Stein is watching the situation very closely.

"Having to work harder with less."

When Geoff Noblitt found out his primary care office would be shut down last fall, he was furious.

"It just seemed cruel to come in and do that," Noblitt told News 13.

Noblitt said he was so upset he decided to write a letter to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

"It doesn't seem right that this big, multi-billion dollar company comes in town with promises of bettering the community and they shut down your primary care, which is the most hands-on," he said. "That's the thing that helps people the most."

He's one of 116 people who reached out to Stein about Mission Health between April of 2020 and April of 2021.

We went through each complaint and learned that most were related to billing issues, another 23% were concerns over quality of care, 16% related to loss of services, 7% were from current or former employees of Mission Health, and 5% were over charity care.


Some were handwritten and emotional while others included copies of disputed medical bills. But all had the same message -- dissatisfaction with HCA.

A former employee of Mission Health tells us she took the time to write a letter to AG Stein's office because she was both frustrated and sad about what she experienced.

She agreed to talk with us, but didn't want to be identified since she still has ties to the hospital.

Once HCA happened, it was a drastic change," the former employee said. "Really, I feel like all that we got was having to work harder with less.

She says she witnessed a drop in staff and services as both a medical worker there and a patient as well and believes patient care has suffered.

She told News 13 that when she realized she was no longer proud of where she worked, she made the tough decision to leave.

"When we say that patient care is number one and then we're cutting services that allow for us to provide better patient care, that just doesn't add up to me and I couldn't be a part of that," she said.

Other feedback

We checked for other feedback on how Mission Hospital is doing.

Yelp reviews gives Mission 2.5 out of 5 stars, and Mission's Leapfrog Healthgrade dropped to a "B" this spring.

In addition, we got the latest report from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The 26-page document goes through several areas in which the hospital was voluntarily reviewed, with a final decision of "Accreditation."

We also talked with Suzi Isreal who said her last trip to Mission was great.

I didn't ever feel not cared for" Isreal said. "Like there wasn't someone who would come and check on me.

Isreal is a cancer patient who went to the emergency room after a fall. She tells us she was surprised by the excellent care she received.

"I think the staff there, the nurses and medical staff are doing their very best with really extraordinary circumstances," Isreal said.

"We are going to be on top of this..."

We looked back at the number of complaints over the last five years.

In 2017, the attorney general received just seven concerns about Mission Health. The next year, Mission Health signed an agreement to be bought by HCA and 257 people wrote to AG Stein's office.

In 2019, when the HCA sale was official, there were 63 complaints. Last year there were 147, with 15 by April of 2021.


As we've previously reported, according to the Independent Monitor, Mission Health has always been in compliance with the promises made during the sale to HCA.

But, AG Stein tells us this is such an important issue that he recently dedicated one of his employees to keeping track of all the complaints about Mission Health.

"Whatever the issue is, we want to make sure Mission is complying with the commitments they made under the APA of a couple years ago, they're complying with the law, but also that they're doing the right thing by their patients," the attorney general said.

News 13 asked if 116 in one year was too many.

It's a concerning number number, 116 over a year," Stein replied. "That's a lot, so we're sharing our serious concerns with the management of the health system and we are going to be on top of this to the extent we possibly can.

We also asked what power his office has since there are no clear metrics in the purchase agreement when it comes to things like staffing and levels of service.


"In the agreement HCA made, commitments about the services they would continue to offer and if they degrade the delivery of those services such that you can argue it's not meaningfully being provided then the agreement can be enforced against them," the attorney general responded. "So I think there are some teeth in the agreement."

Mission Health's Response

Mission Health wouldn't do an interview, but a spokesperson did send us the following statement:

Since January of 2021, we are aware of 15 complaints made to the Attorney General’s office, nine of which were related to billing and all of which have been resolved. We address every issue the Attorney General’s office brings to our attention promptly—both with them and the patient. Our patient care is our first priority. We strongly encourage everyone to contact us directly any time there is a concern so we can address it with them immediately and personally.
Going back to 2020, the majority of billing concerns were made shortly after acquisition of Mission and primarily regarded questions around changes to medical practice operations and a variety of billing issues all of which were resolved. Any patient or guarantor with billing questions or concerns should contact 833-323-0834 and we are happy to discuss, answer any questions you may have, and seek resolution where needed. Further, we have an email address,, where people can reach out to us on any matter.


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