Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

UNC, Duke compete in health care, too

Basketball is a game of runs. Maybe health care is too.

A Duke-Carolina rivalry is playing out on a higher stakes platform in the North Carolina mountains.

UNC, which has a management partnership with Pardee Hospital and a primary care teaching relationship with Mission Hospital and Pardee, can look east and west from North Justice Street to see Duke advancing.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva and Swain County Hospital in Bryson City had signed agreements to be acquired by Tennessee-based Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System and investor-owned LifePoint Hospitals.
"As part of Duke LifePoint, WestCare's hospitals would have access to support and resources to weather the changing health care environment, expand our services, recruit new physicians, offer more opportunities for employees, and continue to serve our communities with the level of care and patient experience they deserve," Bunny Johns, chair of the WestCare Board of Trustees said in a statement. "We are excited to learn more about Duke LifePoint and how our organizations could collaborate."
That has similar elements to Pardee's relationship with UNC Hospitals. Like Duke Medical Center, UNC is a nationally respected teaching hospital with a variety of specialties that draw patients from around the state and region. In a world of digital hookups, remote diagnoses and shared medical records, community hospitals are increasingly linking with bigger and better known medical centers to create regional networks — a point that the Haywood County Board of Commissioners chairman made.
"It's just a matter of economies of scale," the chair, Mark Swanger, told the Asheville newspaper. "A small hospital can't really survive in today's health care climate. Haywood could not survive as a standalone. ... You have to have the buying power, and the negotiating power that can only be obtained through a larger organization."
Unlike UNC, which is owned by the people of North Carolina, investor-owned Duke LifePoint could bring even greater pressure to squeeze profits out of procedures and patient stays at the small community hospitals.