Former NHRMC CEO says hospital would have failed without sale to Novant Health

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Novant Health executives say that despite its recent problems, the New Hanover Regional Medical Center is coping well with the nation’s nursing shortage.

On February 1, 2021, New Hanover County completed its sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health. In the year and a half since, the hospital has had its share of problems ranging from an ER death to investigators threatening the hospital’s Medicare contract.

“The situation was not ideal in our emergency department this summer. We own it,” said John Gizdic, former CEO of NHRMC and current executive vice president of Novant Health. “I know our operational leaders have spoken to you about specific initiatives they have underway to make progress in adding nurses despite the national nursing shortage. »

Several studies indicate that North Carolina is one of the states most affected by the nursing workforce shortage. A study says to expect 10,000 open nursing jobs in North Carolina over the next 10 years. Despite the grim predictions, Novant Health NHRMC has been able to hire hundreds of nurses in recent months — something executives say wouldn’t have been possible if the county hadn’t sold the hospital to Novant in 2020.

Novant Health recently added hundreds of nurses to its staff, many of whom are traveling nurses, whose salaries typically cost more than your regular nurse.

“It has, you know, mixed results,” New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple said. “First of all, it’s incredibly expensive for Novant to do this and I would say it’s really not sustainable.”

Gizdic agrees, saying, “We have to rely on this contract work more than we historically have to make sure we have the resources to take care of our community, but at the same time, it’s three to four times what we pay a normal nurse or bedside nurse who works in the organization and ultimately is not sustainable in the long term. It’s not financially viable [or] for the culture of the organization.

Commissioner Rob Zapple was the only person on council to vote against the sale of the NHRMC. He knows the hospital faces challenges, but says county leaders are also looking for solutions.

“How do we get a pipeline of nurses, you know, coming out of here locally?” Zapple asked “You know, the commissioners have a lever in their hand with Cape Fear Community College, and we have a great nursing program there.”

Novant says the NHRMC is doing well in terms of staffing despite the nationwide labor shortage. Gizdic says it’s thanks to resources from Novant Health.

“We’re able to work with the Novant Health team to recruit nurses across the country and be really aggressive with those resources and go out there and be able to tell our story and attract and retain nurses,” Gizdic said.

The hope is that the annoying headlines of early summer won’t return.

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