Opinion: Enough, already: False claims distract from real work to advance area’s healthcare

By Julia Olson-Boseman, Chair, New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, and Jason Thompson, Chair, NHRMC Board of Trustees

The rumors started flying back in August, a few weeks after New Hanover County and New Hanover Regional Medical Center announced an intent to explore whether a new partner could help secure the region’s access to high quality, affordable healthcare well into the future.

With no evidence, some asserted that a deal was already done. They repeated the claim over and over, convincing some it was the truth. They confidently declared that as soon as the Commissioners voted to move forward, we would learn that NHRMC had already been sold.

The vote happened September 16. No secret deal was revealed.

Public records requests were filed with great fanfare.  The records were provided. And, again, no secret deal was revealed.

The conspiracy theories were falling away.

Meanwhile, 21 area citizens began the serious work of evaluating the healthcare priorities for this region. The NHRMC Partnership Advisory Group, with its mix of NHRMC board members, physicians, and civic-minded representatives of faith, business, and charitable communities, formed to bring different interests and perspectives to the process of exploring options for NHRMC.

This group committed to meet 2-3 times a month, for two hours at a time, for as long as it takes to make the right recommendation for the community.

In between meetings, they committed to reviewing documents and reading articles to be ready to provide thoughtful and informed insight to each discussion.

They committed to listening, sharing information, and visiting with NHRMC staff to understand the issues at stake and give this important process its due.

The group also committed to transparency. Their meeting minutes, audio recordings, presentations and documents are all online at nhrmcfuture.org, along with an open invitation for members of the public to attend meetings and email members with their thoughts.

The commitment of the men and women who are serving on the Partnership Advisory Group should be commended. They are thoughtful, deliberate, and forthright in expressing their opinions about what matters most. If you know any member of this group, you know they are not volunteering their valuable time to rubberstamp a forgone conclusion.

As leaders of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners and NHRMC Board of Trustees, we would like to call on the community, and all those running for elected office, to respect the work of the Partnership Advisory Group. Join us in carefully following this process so you can see what is really happening and understand the full range of issues and options that will be considered moving forward. You may find the narrow views articulated by those who jumped to conclusions six months ago are not as informed as they would lead you to believe.

We would also call on those who are deliberately putting out false information to stop. Political commercials sponsored in support of State Treasurer Dale Folwell by a Raleigh union, the State Employees Association of NC, are egregious examples of lies being promoted to advance a political agenda. Their commercials are an attack on all the hard-working members of our community who are dedicated to advancing care. And they’re insulting in their assumption that members of our community will allow such an important local discussion to be hijacked by outside interests.

We have an important decision to make in 2020. All of us in Southeastern North Carolina want the same thing: great medical care that’s affordable and accessible so we can all live healthier lives. We need to allow an honest, thorough discussion of all options to be held. We need to consider the strengths and weaknesses of every proposal and then carefully choose the right path.

The NHRMC Partnership Advisory Group is working on behalf of the NHRMC Board of Trustees, the New Hanover County Commissioners, and all area residents to evaluate the paths available to us. We appreciate their efforts and look forward to learning, with them, about the opportunities ahead.

This is an important time in our community. Let’s not allow those with little regard for the truth to distract us from ensuring a healthier future.