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New documents released surrounding hospital sale

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.

Before the hospital sale the hospital was publicly owned, and commissioners had to approve and sign off on the sale. Because those decisions had to do with financial bargaining positions and competitive healthcare strategy, they were confidential and couldn’t be discussed in a public session. 

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However, minutes were still kept, as dictated by state open meeting laws. As time passes and the reasons for the meeting being closed are no longer applicable, the minutes become public. 

“Once the source of the business is out in the public already, then there’s no need to keep it closed,” explained County Manager Ira Dove. 

However, the closed session minutes do not include all closed session minutes related to the hospital. Commissioners also released a list of closed session minutes that had been approved—including the subject that each addressed— but were not being released to the public. 

“We’re still doing cleanup business after that transaction, quite a bit of it,” Dove said. “As time goes on and those things get resolved, the reasons become less.”

For decades, the hospital has been publicly run and led by a county-appointed hospital board, making hospital dealings public record. With Duke LifePoint now owning the hospital, it is a private for-profit business, and its dealings are confidential. 

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