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UNC Health Care board mulls selling interest in Rex

Posted May 16, 2011
Updated May 17, 2011

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— UNC Health Care's Board of Directors passed a resolution on Monday stating it is not in the best interest of the citizens of Wake County or the state to sell its interest in Rex Healthcare. 

However, the board said it will exercise its responsibility to consider the offer from WakeMed Health & Hospitals to purchase Rex Healthcare in Raleigh for $750 million. A special committee will be appointed to review it. 

WakeMed Chief Executive Dr. Bill Atkinson said Thursday that the health care system submitted a formal offer to Tom Ross, president of the University of North Carolina system, which has run Rex since it merged with UNC Health Care in 2000.

Atkinson said a merger would offer significant benefits to patients, doctors, taxpayers, the community and North Carolina, which is struggling to close a $2.4 billion gap in the state budget.

Dale Jenkins, chairman of Rex's Board of Trustees, said the offer "came out of the blue" and that he viewed it as "hostile."

"I do not believe that divesting UNC Health Care of Rex in order to generate one-time revenue for the state is in the long-term best interests of the people of North Carolina," Ross said Thursday. "It would damage our ability to fully carry out our (health care) mission."

"Given its fiduciary responsibility to the people of North Carolina, the UNC Health Care board will consider the offer carefully and conduct extensive due diligence," he added.

Rex spokeswoman Melody Hunter-Pillion said Rex is self-sustaining and doesn’t receive any money from UNC Health Care. Over the past two years, she said, it has also contributed $6 million to UNC's coffers.

A merger would likely add several facilities to the WakeMed system, which has facilities in Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Raleigh, Wendell, Zebulon and Clayton. Rex provides medical services in Apex, Cary, Garner, Knightdale, Raleigh and Wakefield.

Atkinson said he didn't anticipate any layoffs as a result of a merger, since health care is an expanding field.

Rex is willing to discuss collaborating with WakeMed in some areas, such as mental health care, Jenkins said, but UNC Health Care is "a better partner for Rex," adding that UNC is better equipped to help Rex develop innovative services in the future.

Although the decision rests with the UNC Health Care board, state lawmakers could also get involved by passing a bill that overrides any decision by the board.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • sheniquarenee May 20, 2011

    I have been working at rex for a while and it is not for sell!!!!!

  • soyousay May 17, 2011

    Do not think this has anything to do about indigent care...that is window dressing for a power grab, and making a way for Novant to come in.

  • soyousay May 17, 2011

    mad..I think WakeMed presents a more efficient model.

    really, drowning in debt is a great model? The clinics caring for indigent patients have been closed. The Wake Med rates are amoung the highest in the area. THe MDs are not signing with Wake now, why would they after Rex was purchased. Most the "sale" price would go to Rex's debt and obligations-no actual imagined profit. Exactly how will A pay for that, the new North plex hospital and Dunn.. Borrow. More debt. Wilmington went through the same nightmare when he was there. Its not about the cargivers at either place.

  • nperkins2 May 17, 2011

    Interestingly enough when the economy took a dive, it was WakeMed who cut jobs and held raises to offset the lost revenue. Perhaps that's how Wake has the money to make such a lofty purchase? Think about it...a one time purchase is not going to provide long-term releif for a chronic economical deficit. Wake made a committment years ago to continue to serve the indigent population as it transitioned from a Community Hospital. While admirable, that is what community hospitals do. Think Wake isn't making money? Furthermore, comments about Rex not servicing the uninsured are simply untrue. The people of Wake County and surrounding areas deserve to have choices. Health care is like any other product. The competition drives the train toward excellence. Talk to patients who have experienced the care at Rex. Let's leave a good thing alone....

  • 2farmfolks May 17, 2011

    I have had surgery at Rex and at Wake Med, I have had several family members have babies at both places and sugeries at both places-- and if the staff "cares" about their patients at Wake Med- They were not working when I have been there! However my experience with Rex was excellent!! Everyone around me knows to take me to Rex if something were to happen to me! Just sayin'

  • raleigh123 May 17, 2011

    (last few comments cut short)...

    It is very depressing to read the comments of those in the community about the care at WakeMed. The staff is under tremendous pressue to take care of very sick patients with challenging issues that, I estimate, are much less than at Rex.

  • raleigh123 May 17, 2011

    I don't know enough about medical economics to comment on whether this would be good or bad for patients. Those who think this is a simple supply and demand model are probably over-simplifying the issue. I do know the following though;

    Rex has historically restricted access to less well insured patients. I think some people that go to Rex couldn't bear the thought of sitting beside (or waiting for the care of) other types of patients that receive care at WakeMed.

    UNC's response to the offer included the comment that Rex plays an integral role in the mission of training physician leaders for the future. That is interesting because guess how many residents are at Rex.....none. They are at WakeMed.

    I can only say the "superior" care at Rex is stongly linked to the facts that a lower volume, more educated, and healthier population receives care there. Know that the staff at WakeMed cares every bit about patients' care, as they do at Rex. It is very depressing to read the comme

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy May 17, 2011

    I think WakeMed presents a more efficient model. They are more ready for the future. --Madonna
    Clearly you have not been to Rex or Wake MED. The treatment at Wake is far worse then REX. I would rather go out to DUMC to be treated at any Wake Med Hosptial.

  • ctya May 17, 2011

    Wilkow Majority what does Obama have to do with this matter. Please!

  • emtp2k May 16, 2011

    I don't think this merger will be good, if they buy up Rex then they will try to put duke Health Raleigh out of business or take them over. Then where will patient's go for care if they don't want to go to Wake Med? My family loves Rex and UNC. We don't like the care we have received at Wake. For us that would mean having to drive to Chapel Hill to be seen at a hospital that focuses on patient's needs.