Press Release

HCA RN, Community Leader Describe Impact of an HCA Buyout Joining Concerns on Bid for Vidalia’s Meadows Regional Med Ctr

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Two witnesses to an HCA Healthcare acquisition of a community hospital in North Carolina joined others Thursday in raising concerns about HCA’s proposed takeover of Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, Ga.

Kerri Wilson, an RN at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC, and Rev. Sara Wilcox of Asheville submitted statements to a public hearing by Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr held Thursday regarding the proposed purchase.

National Nurses United, which represents 12,000 RNs at 19 HCA facilities, submitted testimony earlier this week urging Carr to reject the sale, citing the potential adverse impact on patient care services and out-of-pocket costs for area residents.

Wilson wrote that since the sale to HCA “our community has experienced a decrease in services and decline in care as providers and staff continue to fight for patients through unsustainable conditions. Services including labor and delivery and cancer infusion treatments have been cut from rural hospitals in HCA’s NC division after the acquisition leaving these patients” long drives to receive care.

“There has been an exodus of staff in all departments. There is often no person available to transport patients to tests, thus delaying care,” Wilson wrote. “Physicians have left after taking pay cuts… We are treated like parts in a machine that can be interchanged instead of the specialized care providers we are…

“Mission used to be the standard for excellent care in Western North Carolina, but the reputation within the community is at an all-time low. After the sale, patients began seeing increased costs as well as new fees, and shockingly different billing practices. I’m speaking up now because allowing HCA to expand through acquiring more hospitals and service lines is giving them the power to create a healthcare monopoly putting our communities at risk,” Wilson concluded.

In her statement, Rev. Wilcox wrote that HCA’s “ability to turn significant profit is often explained by its buying power but it is also made possible by starving and threatening the very system it is called to steward…We have rich resources of talented people and innovative science that delivers quality health care in our nation. But an ever-expanding need for profit finds us cutting the care to improve a bottom line that is ever growing.”

“I’ve watched an amazing hospital system starve its employees and decimate the rural outposts our regional hospital has served,” Wilcox said. “I’ve listened to nurses and doctors name the dangerous conditions they work under to stretch the dollar of billionaire CEOs. We should have said no. You still can.”

NNU, in its statement, similarly cited HCA cuts in services at hospitals in California, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas, especially cuts in women’s and children’s care, and converting full-service hospitals to stand alone emergency rooms, requiring long distances for patients needing hospitalization. NNU also noted HCA’s record in charging among the highest prices for care in the nation.

The Attorney General has up to 30 days to make a decision on the bid.