Southeastern Health to Explore Future Options

Board of Trustees Seeks to Secure Healthcare Future for Residents of SE North Carolina

LUMBERTON, N.C. – Fueled by an evolving healthcare landscape, officials for Southeastern Health announced today the health system’s Board of Trustees is beginning a thoughtful and deliberate process to explore options to form a partnership with a like-minded organization.

“It’s no secret that healthcare has and will continue to experience dynamic, unprecedented change,” said Kenneth Rust, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “At the same time, we serve a unique population with growing healthcare needs. Since our inception 65 years ago, Southeastern Health has grown to best serve the needs of this community, and we believe now is the time to explore growth again to ensure we’re best positioned to care for our neighbors for the next 65 years and beyond.”

The Trustees’ announcement comes as health systems across the country have to do more with less as a result of changing reimbursement models and tightened federal and state budgets. In rural North Carolina hospitals, where at least 70 percent of patients are on Medicare, Medicaid or are uninsured, these changes are especially felt. These pressures, as well as others, have led hospitals across the country to explore partnerships to remain strong for the future.

“Our ability to remain independent is a testament to our quality care, strong financial position, and longstanding commitment to the communities we serve,” said Joann Anderson, President and CEO of Southeastern Health. “We’re working to ensure Southeastern Health remains a vibrant community health system with access to high-quality, compassionate care for generations to come.”

Key Areas of Focus

To evaluate potential partners, the Board established a clear set of criteria that include: cultural and mission fit; understanding of rural healthcare; population health; and access to capital.

“It’s important that any potential partner honor our mission and share our commitment to delivering a superior experience for our patients and their families,” Rust said. “We’re also looking for an organization that understands the unique challenges and opportunities of delivering healthcare in rural communities and that maintains the resources and best practices necessary to keep our residents healthy.”

A History of Strategic Partnerships

Southeastern Health has a long history of aligning with strategic partners to advance the quality of care in the region. More than a decade ago, the health system forged a collaboration with Duke Health to open Southeastern Health Heart and Vascular managed by Duke Health, expanding access to leading cardiology services. Three years ago, Southeastern Health partnered with Atrium Health (formerly Carolinas HealthCare System) on a Strategic Services Agreement that allowed the health system to maximize its purchasing power for supplies and pharmaceuticals at lower costs. In 2013, Southeastern Health partnered with Campbell University’s Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine to develop a robust pipeline of community-minded physicians.

“A formal exploration process is the natural next step for us,” Rust said. “We’ve been successful in the past when we’ve partnered with organizations that share our values. In pursuing partnerships, we want to have wisdom as we consider next steps.”

What’s Next

“We are in the early stages of a partnership exploration led by our community board, and this process will support the Board in determining if that is truly what’s best for our patients and the community,” Anderson said. “No decisions about our future have been made today. We’re proud to be entering this exploration with a strong balance sheet and from a position of strength. This affords us the time to undertake a deliberate, coordinated and thoughtful partnership process.”

The Board has launched a website, www.sehealthforward.org, to keep the community informed throughout the exploration process. Members of the community are encouraged to visit the site to learn more about the process, view a list of frequently asked questions, and subscribe for future updates.

“We are committed to being open and transparent throughout this process,” Rust said. “We will share appropriate updates as they become available and appreciate everyone’s support as we move forward.”

In the meantime, nothing is changing for the patients or staff at Southeastern Health.

“Our number one priority remains providing exceptional care to the communities that count on us,” Anderson said. “You can be assured our patients will continue to receive the same high-quality care from our providers, nurses and other caregivers. Our day-to-day operations are not changing for our patients, employees or community. Our commitment is unwavering.”

About Southeastern Health

Southeastern Health, a non-profit organization, is a comprehensive health care system which offers a wide array of health care services through its affiliated divisions. Southeastern Health is licensed for 452 beds and includes Southeastern Regional Medical Center, a DNV GL-Healthcare accredited hospital, which offers a combination of acute care, intensive care and psychiatric services to more than 15,000 inpatients and 61,000 emergency patients annually.