The new CEO of Haywood Regional Medical Center assumed his role this week, pledging to lead the hospital into a new era under the ownership of Duke LifePoint.

The sale to Duke LifePoint last year ended Haywood Regional’s proud history as a community-owned, locally controlled hospital. But it was seen as a necessity to survive, with small independent hospitals fading fast everywhere without the economies of scale and expertise brought to bear by larger hospital systems.

Haywood Regional Medical Center (HRMC) announced today that Phillip L Wright has been named chief executive officer (CEO) for the hospital. He will assume his new role on Jan. 5, 2015.

Wright is a seasoned healthcare executive with 17 years of experience in executive leadership roles. He is currently serving as CEO for Santa Rosa Medical Center in Milton, Fla. Wright has also served as CEO and administrator of hospitals in South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. 

Haywood County Commissioners have released a collection of minutes from closed sessions going back to August 2013, detailing discussions surrounding the sale of Haywood Regional Medical Center to Duke LifePoint Healthcare. 

The now-public documents deal with the bidding process, site visits to potential buyers and county commissioners’ questions surrounding the process.

Although the ink is dry on the sale of Haywood Regional Medical Center, how much the county will get for the hospital remains a moving target.

It hasn’t take long for the interim CEO of Haywood Regional Medical Center to pick up on the hospital’s biggest strengths: high-quality doctors and broad community support.

Mission Health plans to expand its presence in Haywood County with a large medical complex housing doctors’ offices and a line of healthcare services.

The move is unwelcome competition for Haywood Regional Medical Center. But to Mission, it’s a reflection of “the strong preference that many Haywood County residents” have already shown by traveling to Asheville.

fr hospitalsA visiting team from LifePoint Hospital network made the rounds to their newly acquired hospitals in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties over the past week. They pledged to roll up their sleeves and get to work fulfilling the promises made when courting the community hospitals here to join their national hospital network with a growing presence in North Carolina.

fr hospitalsWhen Janie Sinacore-Jaberg walked the halls of Haywood Regional Medical Center Friday morning, the congratulations were flowing and the balloons flying.

“Our staff is incredibly excited. There are just smiles everywhere. You could feel it. It was palpable when you walked in the hospital today,” said Sinacore-Jaberg, the CEO of Haywood Regional.

Three weeks after a fire in the power room knocked out electricity at Haywood Regional Medical Center, the hospital is fully open and accepting patients. The hospital had already opened its emergency department and business offices back up on June 30 after getting a double generator backup system in place but had to hold off accepting inpatients until getting back on Duke Energy power. 

“We are incredibly pleased with the pace of this process,” said Janie Sinacore-Jaberg, the hospital’s president and CEO. “I said all along that we weren’t going to rush it, and we didn’t. We did everything correctly, methodically and in a very organized way.”

The hospital accepted its first inpatients following the fire on July 10. Because the length of stay for most inpatients is on the short side, patients who were transferred to neighboring hospitals during the closure are not being transferred back, said Christina Deidesheimer, director of strategy and marketing. 

“I don’t believe that we transferred back any patients from other facilities,” she said. “The length of stay for most patients is pretty short, so most likely most of these patients that we have [moved] have been discharged.”

The hospital has not yet finished negotiations with the insurance company, so there’s no word yet on how much of the lost profit from the closure a claim might recoup. There’s also no verdict yet on what caused the fire in the first place. 

“That investigation’s still ongoing,” Deidesheimer said. “We wish these things would happen within a couple weeks, but unfortunately they take quite a long time.”

The sale of the MedWest hospital trio in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties will be finalized by the end of July.

Duke LifePoint HealthCare, a national for-profit hospital network, will take over Aug. 1, ending a long legacy of local, independent ownership of the community hospitals.

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