ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) -- About 100 residents from Mitchell, Buncombe and other area counties gathered Tuesday in north Asheville to hear from a panel concerned about HCA’s purchase of Mission Hospital. The deal, according to a Mission spokesperson, is expected to close by year's end, pending Attorney General Josh Stein’s approval once he reviews the contract and all related documents.
SEARCH, a grass-roots organization of concerned residents, along with several other interested groups held what was termed a listening session.
Former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who was the state’s attorney general in the 1990s and oversaw HCA's purchase of a Kansas City hospital group, spoke at the meeting.
Nixon said HCA has been a solid steward of the Kansas City hospital group since, but he urged those listening to make sure the board overseeing a trust established to ensure safety net and other programs has strong powers to oversee and serve as a watchdog group to make sure contract stipulations in the sale are followed.
“They (HCA) have obligations to stockholders, they have obligations to the bottom line,” said Nixon, who will also be meeting with Stein this week.
“The choices made here can literally affect people for generations to come,” Nixon said, referring to the establishment and execution of stipulations for the trust created out of the Mission Hospital sale.
Panelist Carmen Ramos-Kennedy, president of Asheville Buncombe County NAACP, said she had met with the Dogwood Board president about concerns she has over the panel's lack of diversity.
“The people on the board all have prior relationships with Mission,” Ramos-Kennedy said. “It’s outrageous that eight people of the nine are white, seven of them are white men.”
When asked for comment, a Mission spokesperson said a request for comment had been made to the board president, but News 13 did not get a response back.
Several who attended the listening session said they would like to see HCA staff out speaking to communities about what their plans are.
“Mission Health leadership has met extensively with members of the community, local groups and elected officials throughout the region for the duration of the process,” HCA spokesman Ed Fishbough said. “It is our intention that these leaders will continue in their roles after the transaction is completed. HCA Healthcare has been focused on finalizing the transaction so we can build on Mission Health’s over 135-year tradition of caring for Western North Carolina. We have been meeting and continue to meet regularly with the Mission Health team in anticipation of the transition, and we look forward to continuing Mission Health's excellent reputation for quality healthcare and operations.”
Rowena Buffett Timms, senior vice president of government and community relations for Mission, said the sale and associated valuation has been reviewed by Cain Brothers, a division of KeyBanc Capitol Markets. Cain Brothers lists itself as a pre-eminent healthcare investment bank. On the company’s profile page Cain Brothers states it’s deep knowledge of the healthcare “industry is matched with the knowhow needed to efficiently execute the most complex transactions of all sizes.”