LUMBERTON — Southeastern Health and UNC Health have approved a nonbinding letter of intent for the two organizations to enter into a long-term comprehensive Management Services Agreement.
The proposed agreement will culminate in Southeastern Health becoming the 12th member of the UNC Health system and will closely align the organizations as they work together to enhance quality and ensure strong local access to health care in Robeson County and the surrounding region, according to Southeastern Health. Southeastern Health intends to co-brand with UNC Health as UNC Health Southeastern. UNC Health is North Carolina’s leading public academic health-care system and includes 11 hospitals and hundreds of clinics throughout the state.
The names of Southeastern Health’s locations will continue and will be co-branded to reflect the partnership with UNC Health.
Signing the letter of intent is an important step in the process for Southeastern Health to move toward aligning with UNC Health. Pending further board approvals and standard regulatory review, the organizations hope to finalize the agreement later this year.
Southeastern Health announced in 2019 that the board of trustees had begun a partnership exploration process to chart the best path forward for the organization and for the future of health care in the communities served by Southeastern, according to the health-care system. After pausing its process for a period of time because of COVID-19, the Southeastern board resumed its work and has determined that closely aligning with UNC Health will move health care forward in important ways for the people of Robeson County and surrounding communities.
“The Southeastern board of trustees set out to find a partner who can help make healthcare even better for the people we serve,” said Kenneth Rust, chair of the Southeastern Health board of trustees. “Importantly, UNC Health shares our values and commitment to providing quality, compassionate and strong local healthcare, making a long-term regional partnership a natural fit for both organizations.”
Aligning with North Carolina’s leading public academic health system will allow Southeastern Health to become an even stronger regional health-care leader, providing enhanced opportunities to recruit and retain additional highly skilled physicians and other caregivers to the area, maintain and grow the services Southeastern offers while keeping care local, and positively affecting the health and well-being of the communities it serves. Southeastern will benefit from the scale and expertise of UNC Health in areas such as clinical and organizational development initiatives, purchasing agreements, access to clinical and operational subject matter experts, and more.
“We have tremendous respect for Southeastern Health. We admire what they are doing to advance healthcare in rural North Carolina and look forward to achieving even more together to improve the health and wellness of the communities Southeastern serves,” said Dr. Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health. “UNC Health knows the value of partnering with rural and community hospitals to keep care local by expanding access to healthcare providers and services close to home. Formally aligning with Southeastern Health is a natural fit and advances our mission of serving all North Carolinians.”
Over the course of Southeastern Health’s process it became clear that UNC Health was the natural and best fit for the organization.
“UNC Health believes in and supports the Southeastern mission to provide quality, regional healthcare in a safe, compassionate and efficient environment,” Rust said. “Southeastern Health has deep ties to the community and UNC Health is committed to helping advance the health and well-being of the region while providing a more coordinated experience and ensuring continuity of care for patients.”
Of particular interest to the board was UNC Health’s strides in rural health care and population health throughout North Carolina.
“UNC Health has a deep understanding of rural healthcare and the challenges associated with delivering care in that environment,” said Joann Anderson, Southeastern Health president and CEO. “In the past decade, UNC Health has partnered with smaller hospitals across the state to improve care in those regions and we look forward to working very closely with them here in our part of the state.”
Importantly, Southeastern will benefit from UNC Health’s existing population health management strategy and commitment to addressing health disparities with innovative, patient-centered solutions.
“While this is an exciting milestone, we still have more work to do on the details of the proposed comprehensive Management Services Agreement,” Anderson said. “As this work continues, Southeastern Health remains focused on delivering on its mission to provide quality regional healthcare in a safe, compassionate and efficient environment.”
To learn more about the proposed regional partnership, see frequently asked questions and answers, submit a question, and review ongoing updates, visit sehealthforward.org.