Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Pardee board welcomes UNC's peace pact

Pardee Hospital leaders welcomed the news from Raleigh that state legislators had forced Pardee partner UNC Hospitals and its Raleigh competitor WakeMed to settle their differences and end their public feud.

The peace treaty was reported last week by the News&Observer of Raleigh.
"The agreement is largely a victory for WakeMed, whose hostile takeover bid for Rex Hospital sparked discussion about the state's role in the health care system and found a sympathetic ear with some Republican lawmakers about the UNC system's burgeoning empire," the Raleigh newspaper reported.
"Nearly all of WakeMed's complaints were answered as part of the deal. UNC Health Care will shoulder a larger charity care burden with the mental health hospital, potentially saving WakeMed millions of dollars."
UNC Hospitals
That portrayal contrasted with the report from Pardee trustee Bill Lapsley, who as a member of the UNC Hospitals board heard a spin that favored UNC and Pardee.
Last summer, House leaders created a special committee to look into UNC Hospitals, its governance and expansion by buying physician practices and partnering with other health care providers, as it has with Pardee. UNC Hospitals and Pardee considered the committee a potential threat.
"What does that have to do with us? It has a potential impact on this seat that I happen to fill," Lapsley, the immediate past Pardee chairman, told the trustees. "So it could be a big issue."
Beyond the governance question, UNC Hospitals officials feared the special committee intended to strip the Chapel Hill health care giant of its ability to add partnerships with other health care providers.
In late April, state Sen. Tom Apodaca and Rep. Harold Brubaker directed Rex and WakeMed to stop fussing and start negotiating.
"We locked them in a room and told them to work it out or we'd work it out for them," Apodaca told the Hendersonville Lightning.
Apodaca sounded a tone of diplomacy when the two hospitals announced the agreement.
The participants "are celebrating the establishment of an expanded partnership that will positively affect patient care and the training of doctors in North Carolina for years to come," he said. We "believe these two great institutions have more things in common than differences."
The Hendersonville Republican, who holds the powerful position as chairman of the Rules Committee, has been a key figure behind the scenes in Raleigh on behalf of Pardee. He helped negotiate the UNC partnership last year along with then-County Commission chairman Mike Edney.
The News&Observer said the UNC-Rex-WakeMed agreement requires UNC "to file IRS Form 990s for each of its private, nonprofit health care entities Rex Healthcare, Rex Hospital and Chatham Hospital." Pardee, a county-owned non-profit, was not mentioned. UNC officials portrayed the settlement as positive.
"It was very pleasing from my perspective and Pardee's," he said. "I think it's a good thing that these issues are off the table and we can continue to have a long-term relationship with the UNC health care system."
A legislative sword overhead seemingly has not diminished UNC Hospitals' enthusiasm for expansion. Lapsley said that other community hospitals across the state, seeing the Pardee model, have approached UNC about becoming a partner.
"I think it speaks well of Pardee to be the first player on the block so to speak," he said.