NAACP concerned over community impact of Navicent Health merger with Atrium Health

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A merger in the works between Navicent Health and Atrium Health in North Carolina has many wondering what it will mean for community members in Macon-Bibb.

Macon’s chapter of the NAACP has planned to express its concerns tonight and ask both hospitals those questions directly.

The group is hosting a town hall at the Government Center in Macon at 6:30 pm to talk with residents and hospital staff about how it will affect residents.

NAACP President Gwennette Westbrooks says Atrium has several pending lawsuits including a federal anti-trust lawsuit.

The suit claims the group hiked up medical costs to prevent competition.

“We just need to know what does this merge mean for our community? Will people lose their jobs? Will the same doctors who have been vital in this community still be a part of Navicent?” Westbrooks told 41NBC.

Westbrooks says she invited Navicent Health and Atrium to address the crowd but there’s no word if they’ll be in attendance.

Navicent Rep Megan Allen says because the hospital is in a “silent phase” of the merger, they can’t discuss details at this time.

Here’s the original announcement from Navicent about the merger with Atrium:

Atrium Health and Navicent Health Announce Plans to Form Strategic Combination to Serve Communities in Central and South Georgia

CHARLOTTE, N.C., and MACON, G.A., Feb. 8, 2018 – Atrium Health, previously Carolinas HealthCare System, and Navicent Health today jointly announced they have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to enter into a strategic combination to enhance access, affordability and equity of care for individuals and families in central and south Georgia.

By bringing together Atrium Health, with its proven track record for devoting resources and expertise necessary to deliver unparalleled value to patients and affiliates alike, and Navicent Health, a leading Georgia healthcare system that is committed to elevating health and well-being for its patients and communities, they will address access and affordability while co-creating the future of health for central and south Georgia.

Navicent Health will become a part of Atrium Health, benefitting the central and south Georgia area. This strategic combination will allow Navicent Health to become the leader of a regional hub for Atrium Health outside the Carolinas and will enhance Macon-Bibb County’s position as one of Georgia’s leading centers for healthcare, keeping the physician community strong, and enabling patients to access complex medical services locally.

We’re focused on creating a personalized care experience for each and every patient and community we serve,” said Gene Woods, president and CEO of newly named Atrium Health. “Whether it’s improving health for those living in urban and rural areas through access to the newest virtual care technology, elevating hope for the parent of a sick child through an innovative cancer treatment, or advancing healing for a patient in our emergency department through integrated behavioral health servicesthe privilege to care for existing and new communities throughout central and south Georgia is another way to breathe life into our mission to care for all.”

Atrium Health and Navicent Health have each separately made clinical, operational, and technological investments in population and community health, and together will build upon these significant investments to become a leading model for managing the health of individuals and communities throughout central and south Georgia. Through this exchange of knowledge and deployment of resources and capabilities, patients and local communities will have access to enhanced levels of world-class care in areas like cancer, cardiology, pediatrics, surgery, transplant and behavioral health, complementing the existing levels of strong clinical care today. Together, Atrium Health and Navicent Health can address the significant and disproportionate health disparities that face central and south Georgia residents by deploying innovative care delivery models.

Navicent Health has a shared mission with Atrium Health to continuously improve healthcare in this region,” said Dr. Ninfa M. Saunders, FACHE, president and CEO of Navicent Health. “This is the first major partnership of its type in the Southeast region and ensures a Macon-based institution will continue to be the leading driver of healthcare in central Georgia and beyond, while continuing to elevate the care that is provided locally. This will also give us access to Atrium Health’s wide array of award-winning, proven successes and best practices in healthcare delivery that we can deploy in our service areas. Our ability to provide high level services to improve the health of communities is only possible with support from our community, physicians, employees and partners. We are excited to find a partner that shares in our vision for the future of health.”

Together, Atrium Health and Navicent Health will strengthen central and south Georgia’s healthcare options for the 750,000 residents in this area – from world-class clinical services across multiple sites of care, to managing the health of communities and promoting health coverage and capabilities, to greater access and affordability for their current and future patients, and to enhancing current and future care delivery with technology and innovation.

The signing of this Letter of Intent will allow for more detailed discussions to take place as Atrium Health and Navicent Health will now enter into a time of thoughtful negotiation and due diligence.