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News Angel-Mission partnership nears finalization

A affiliation agreement between Angel Medical Center and Mission Health System in Asheville is set to be finalized in the coming months, according to retiring Angel CEO Tim Hubbs. Hubbs, who announced his plan to retire last week, said he believed an announcement on the partnership would come before he officially steps down from his position sometime next fall.

Discussion of a partnership between the medical providers has been under discussion for almost a year. “Our staff and our board, as well as those at Mission, have worked diligently over the last few months to develop a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Hubbs. “We want a win-win. We want something good for Mission, but we also want something good for our community, where we have local input, local decision authority on key items.”

Hubbs says agreement has already been reached on most issues and that now the parties are mostly focused on legal matters.

Angel and Mission have a long history of working together to serve Macon County and the surrounding communities. Mission’s Mountain Area Medical Airlift helicopter (MAMA), which serves all the far-western counties, is based at Angel. Mission also has a land-based ambulance stationed at the hospital for emergency transport to Asheville.

The close relationship with the much larger institution has been beneficial to Angel in the past in obtaining financing for various capital projects. In addition, Hubbs noted that Mission has assisted the hospital in recruiting new physicians to the area and is currently involved in Angel’s efforts to attract OB/GYN staff. He added that the recently established Mission Spine Center was also a result of the close partnership between the two organizations.

The history of cooperation between the hospitals is one of the attractive features Angel utilizes in bringing in new medical staff, says Randolph Bulgin, chairman of the Angel Medical Center Board of Trustees. “There is also a history of physicians at Angel and Mission working closely,” Bulgin said, adding that such collaborations will only increase with the partnership agreement.

Hubbs notes that the benefits are not oneway, as Angel is the one of the primary referral bases in the region for specialty care at Mission. “It is my belief that we have the best hospital in the region,” said Hubbs.

Citing several recent indicators of Angel’s success and the value the hospital brings to the table, Hubbs noted that Angel has one of the lowest infection rates of hospitals in North Carolina and one of the highest patient satisfaction scores of any hospital in the region.

A recent survey found the hospital in top 10 percent of hospitals in North Carolina for surgical care quality indicators.

In his three years as CEO, Hubbs has worked with two chiefs of staff, Dr. Gus Wilde and Dr. Chuck Trentham. He said that their leadership and dedication, along with the quality of physicians at Angel, is the main reason for the hospital’s success.

Hubbs said that he is leaving the hospital to pursue other interests but the the affiliation agreement was not the reason for his resignation. “We have accomplished a lot in three years, and we are on the cusp of some good things in the coming months,” he said. “I thought it would be a good time to transition.”

Bulgin reported that the board has begun the process of looking for a replacement for Hubbs. “Tim is going to be a hard act to follow,” he said.

A committee of Angel board members and medical staff, as well as representatives from Mission, will be involved in the selecting a replacement. “We’re anticipating that this affiliation will be completed [by the time Hubbs retires], and Mission will be heavily involved in the selection process,” Bulgin said.

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