Local News

Major Hospital Merger Just a Few Votes Away

Posted August 13, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— It's called the "City of Medicine." Very soon, Durham will be living up to that title. Two big hospitals are making plans for a partnership.

Talks have been underway for years between two non-profit corporations that run Duke Medical Center and Durham Regional Hospital. Wednesday's action by the board at Durham Regional was just a small step on the way to its partnership with Duke.

The partnership will result in Duke Medical Center basically running Durham Regional. Duke would sublease Durham Regional for 34 years. All auxiliary operations including the Lincoln Community Health Center and the county ambulance service would be included.

There are still a lot of details to work out. And taxpayers are wary. Partnership opponent Victoria Peterson told Durham Regional's board she doesn't want the hospital to be given to anyone but the people.

Durham Regional's board is ready to move forward. The partnership is the result of changes in the managed healthcare system. Richard Myers of the Durham County Hospital Corporation says it's absolutely necessary to cut costs in order to survive.

A decision by Duke's board is expected next week. Then the partnership proposal goes to the public and the Durham County commissioners. Dr. Ralph Snyderman of Duke University expects healthy discussion on the part of the community.

Under managed care, insurance companies very often force hospitals to work more efficiently to save money for both their subscribers and for the company. That's why there are more alliances among hospitals than buyouts.

Here are some highlights of the proposed partnership between Durham Regional and Duke Medical:

  • Duke will assume control over Durham Regional's day-to-day operations and assets.
  • Durham Regional employees will become Duke employees.
  • Durham Regional employees will keep their current jobs and salaries.
  • No immediate lay-offs or staff reductions are called for.
  • Duke promises a continued commitment to Lincoln Community Health Center, which provides medical care to the city's poor and uninsured.