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LifePoint making good on pledge to upgrade Haywood Regional

More than $6 million has been spent on upgrades and improvements at Haywood Regional Medical Center since it was bought by Duke LifePoint hospital network last year.

Pumping cash into the facility and equipment was a condition of the deal, a pledge that is par for the course in the dozens of acquisitions LifePoint has carried out.

But the projects carried out so far at Haywood Regional aren’t of the ribbon-cutting variety.

“A lot of it is what I consider basic infrastructure things,” said Richard Grogan, who has served as interim CEO since the hospital sale in August until now. “They aren’t as glamorous.”

But they’re important, like a new roof on the hospital, major HVAC work, and electrical and plumbing maintenance. A new roof and pool resurfacing have taken place at the nearby fitness center.

There’s also been equipment replacements, including lung screening equipment and a new lathroscopic tower that houses the surgery implements and imaging screens for minimally invasive procedures.

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Another $30 million in capital investment by Duke LifePoint is still to come, according to terms of the purchase agreement.

The next year will probably see more of the maintenance upgrades, equipment replacements and modernizations witnessed so far.

“We looked at things that we felt like were so fundamental we had to do it immediately. We still have more we want to do in that category,” Grogan said.

“The high ticket items will come along, so what you will see instead of a steady amount each year, it will fluctuate,” Grogan said.

The capital investment pledge was a pot sweetener in the hospital sale. LifePoint got a bargain deal on the sale price, paying only $29 million. But it came with the promise to pump $36 million into the hospital over coming years.

Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick applauded Duke LifePoint for getting right to it.

“A lot of times you get promises that ‘we are going to do this or do that,’ but it was nice to see things being done immediately upon the purchase,” Kirkpatrick said.

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