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Features Health & Wellness WestCare board names new partner for Harris and Swain hospitals

The WestCare Board of Trustees has decided to pursue a relationship with a healthcare partner that will provide significant clinical, quality, operational, and financial resources and expertise to position Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital to “realize their full potential, meeting and exceeding community expectations for high quality, local healthcare.”

After a thoughtful and deliberate process that began in the summer of 2012, the WestCare Board has chosen to partner with Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System and LifePoint Hospitals. Among the significant benefits offered by the relationship with Duke LifePoint, WestCare would have access to needed capital to fund strategic projects developed in collaboration with hospital leadership and physicians in Sylva and Bryson City. This process was initiated by the MedWest Health System board with the support of both the WestCare and Haywood Regional Medical Center boards.

“This is a game-changing step forward for the WestCare hospitals,” said Bunny Johns, chair of the WestCare Board. “This relationship provides us the opportunity to focus on our hospitals and medical community serving Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties in a way that makes sense for local patients, their families, and physicians. WestCare will be operated independent of Haywood Regional Medical Center.” Johns further indicated that Duke LifePoint and WestCare would work closely together to develop a local strategic plan executed by WestCare management and supported by the local board of trustees and medical staff of West- Care.

WestCare and Duke LifePoint will enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which is non-binding and signifies the intent of both parties to execute the partnership. Upon completion of a due diligence period, Duke LifePoint will purchase Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital and their respective outpatient facilities, committing significant capital resources with the goal of maximizing WestCare’s ability to serve patients at its hospitals in Sylva and Bryson City.

“This model provides WestCare with a strong focus on meeting the local healthcare needs in our service area and represents a new, completely different strategic approach to that implemented under MedWest Health System, ” said Dr. John Buenting, a WestCare Board member. “In addition to operational, clinical and quality resources, Duke LifePoint brings to the table a financial commitment to our community in the form of dollars that will not only fund projects and contribute to economic stability, but also ensure a viable future for our hospitals as healthcare delivery changes. It is exciting to embark upon vigorously empowering WestCare to best serve our communities even as we deal with changes brought about by health care reform,” he said.

WestCare Health System was formed through a partnership of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital in 1997 and serves Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties with primary and subspecialty care, outpatient facilities and urgent care.

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