July 19, 2018

Karen Gorby: Mission Health-HCA Healthcare Alliance Will Change Face of Healthcare in Macon County for the Better

By Karen Gorby
President/CNO, Angel Medical Center

The contemplated transaction with Nashville-based HCA Healthcare has been a hot topic at the Town Halls I’ve hosted recently at Angel Medical Center as well as at other community meetings. In addition to holding small group information sessions at the hospital, I’ve been answering HCA-related questions in our weekly Angel Minute e-newsletter. The reality is this: HCA Healthcare sought out Mission Health because they saw we were a health system that is strong, innovative and a provider of high quality patient care. And, the partnership with HCA Healthcare will provide sustainability to both Angel Medical Center and Mission Health in an uncertain healthcare environment.

It’s important to remember that Mission Health is not rushing into anything. As I’ve been talking to community members about the process we’re in right now, I liken it to dating, engagement, and marriage. The “first date” is what’s called the due diligence process – when both Mission Health and HCA Healthcare are getting to know each other; if “dating” is a success, next comes a definitive agreement to partner, or the “engagement.” The final step of the process is getting the North Carolina Attorney General’s approval, or the “blessing.”

One of the most significant upsides of this transaction would be the creation of a successor foundation, to be called the Dogwood Health Trust, which will be funded by the net proceeds from the sale of Mission Health. The Trust will be completely separate from HCA Healthcare and not influenced or controlled by it in any way.

This new foundation will have the capacity to changes the landscape of our region unlike anything before. Its bold mission will be: to dramatically improve the health and wellbeing of all people and communities in western North Carolina. In fact, it will have the largest amount of dollars per capita in the nation to developing strategies to address what is called the social determinants of health – things like safe and affordable housing, healthy food, high quality education, insurance affordability and more. These determinants determine sixty percent of an individual’s overall health. By addressing these root-cause factors, we have the opportunity to make unprecedented improvements in the health of our communities. How many people in western North Carolina do you know that have important health and related needs that simply no one will pay for?

Additionally, the foundation will further fuel our partnerships with community organizations that are likewise working to address these concerns. For example, we were able, through a grant that Mission Health was awarded, to fund the cost of the computer software needed for the Healthy Neighbors Network, an innovative program that matches registered community members with services they need, from food pantry resources to aid with paying utility bills. Twenty Macon County churches are providing volunteers for important projects that are registered in the Healthy Neighbors Network, such as building ramps for the wheelchair-bound. An added bonus of this system is that the data it provides will identify what services are most needed in our community and in turn, help target how Dogwood Health Trust might support this important work.

Our partnership with HCA Healthcare will not only ensure the sustainability of Angel Medical Center, it will also enable our continued growth. No matter how we grow or transition, our community members and their health will always be our top priority.


Karen S. Gorby, RN, MSN, MBA, CENP, FACHE, is the President/Chief Nursing Officer of Angel Medical Center. Gorby is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). For nearly three decades, she has served hospitals and health systems in Ohio before assuming her role at Angel Medical Center. Gorby received her MSN from Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, and her MBA from Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio.

For more information on Angel Medical Center, please visit angelmed.org.