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MedWest-Haywood to fill key slots

The county is looking to fill five open positions on MedWest-Haywood’s hospital authority board during a critical time when the MedWest system as a whole is trying to decide its future.

Growing discontent among some Jackson County doctors has the system — which includes MedWest-Harris, MedWest-Swain and MedWest-Haywood — questioning whether the three hospitals should continue on as one connected system, dissolve their partnership completely or simply loosen their bond.

John Young, interim CEO of MedWest-Haywood, only alluded to the discontent among a large group of Jackson County doctors during his update about the hospital to the Haywood County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 6.

“There is and continues to be questions about what is the best way to position hospitals in the Western Carolinas for the future,” Young said. “And there continues to be other ideas for organization for the future.”

Members of the 10-person Haywood hospital authority board would be responsible for charting a new future for MedWest-Haywood if the other two hospitals decide to pull out of the partnership, making these vacancies key. The board oversees all of MedWest-Haywood’s operations and acts a governing board for the hospital underneath an overarching committee for the entire MedWest hospital system.

Twelve people, including four sitting members, have applied for one of the five open positions on the board.

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The four current members who have applied for another term include Dr. Henry Nathan, gastroenterologist at Haywood; Dr. Bennie Sharpton, a surgeon at Haywood; Norman Yearick, a retiree who worked in industrial management; and Jean Burton, a retiree who formerly served as a hospital human resource executive.

The other eight applicants are: Eddie Lial, a retired Farm Bureau Insurance agent; Deborah Porto, chair of Haywood Community College’s Advanced Technologies department; Martin Sohovich, a small business owner; Garry Wooten, a retired real estate broker and former county medical examiner; James Sizemore Jr., owner of Homes and Hideaways; Mary Dockham, a retired health care executive; W. Cecil Bennett, a retired health care professional; and Robin Greene Black, an accountant at Gahagan, Black and Associates.

A committee at Haywood Regional Medical Center is currently reviewing the applications and will pass their final candidate on to the Haywood County Board of Commissioners for final approval.


No word yet on future MedWest partnership

The Westcare Board of Directors met for more than four hours Tuesday, Aug. 7, to discuss the future of MedWest-Harris and MedWest-Swain hospitals.

The board did not take an official vote on whether to pull out of the MedWest partnership or whether to dissolve its ties with Medwest-Haywood. Instead, the board will remain in study mode and reconvene toward the end of August to make a more conclusive decision.

Harris and Swain partnered with Haywood Regional Medical Center two and half years ago under the MedWest banner. However, doctors and hospital staff in Jackson County, and to some extent Swain County as well, have been unhappy with the affiliation.

“The WestCare Board and Medical Staff remain committed to pursuing a structure that will best position Harris and Swain to serve their local communities in the future as they have for decades,” according to a statement released following the meeting last week.

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