Three coastal hospitals have joined the Novant Health system in South Carolina, furthering its commitment to deliver high-quality and affordable care in the region.

East Cooper Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, Hilton Head Hospital in Hilton Head and Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville became part of the not-for-profit system to combine strengths and expand access to high quality care.

Top scores for safety in NC


Novant Health just received the most ‘As’ for patient safety in North Carolina from The Leapfrog Group. That includes Rowan Medical Center. With a focus on safety, quality and patient experience, the national, industry-leading nonprofit, evaluates and assigns letter grades ranging from A to F to hospitals across the country. Novant Health’s hospitals with “A” grades outperform 70% of hospitals nationwide for safety and quality.

Patients will keep their same doctors and care teams and receive the services they expect while Novant Health continues to make investments in primary and specialty care by recruiting even more specialists to the region it’s now serving.

“Novant Health’s long-term vision is to transform the health and wellness of these communities through expanded specialty services and clinical expertise,” said Carl S. Armato, president and CEO, Novant Health. “We are energized and united behind our cause to create a healthier future together by building connections with patients and clinicians in coastal South Carolina.”

Four physicians representing the three hospitals and affiliated clinics said the move holds tremendous promise for their patients, especially based on the health system’s track record of success that meshes with their own vision for patient care.

As Novant Health leaders met with South Carolina physicians in advance of the expansion, a collaborative spirit quickly emerged.

“It’s been very, very encouraging,” said Dr. Ardra Davis-Tolbert, Coastal Carolina Hospital chief of staff. “If I'd give you a word, it’s been ‘warm.’ And it feels like they are truly dedicated to the cause.”

Dr. Ardra Davis-Tolbert
Davis-Tolbert is lead physician at the 11-provider Riverside Women’s Care in Bluffton just west of Hilton Head Island, and is also trained in robotically assisted surgery. A strong advocate of access-for-all to health care, Davis-Tolbert noted South Carolina’s high poverty rate (No. 10 nationwide) and a shortage of primary care providers in her region.

She said she was encouraged by Novant Health’s commitment to the community and the system’s work to reduce health care disparities.

She and others were heartened by the fact that Novant Health has more than 1,900 physicians in over 800 locations, including the corners of the community that need care the most. Recruiting doctors committed to delivering care across the spectrum is another Novant Health hallmark.

Novant Health: Care close to home

-Novant Health is a not-for-profit system that provides care to communities across North Carolina and South Carolina. Its network spans medical centers, clinics, outpatient surgery centers, medical plazas, rehabilitation programs and diagnostic imaging centers.

-Novant Health is committed to retaining top quality talent to ensure high quality care continues to be available. Its network includes over 1,900 physicians who provide care at more than 800 locations.

-To expand access to senior care across the southeastern United States, Novant Health is partners with Ochsner Health to offer comprehensive services, including social support and wellness resources. This approach to care addresses the unique and complex healthcare needs of one of the fastest growing populations of patients.

-Novant Health shares a minority interest with Conway Medical Center, an independent, nonprofit health system serving South Carolinians in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions.

-Through its partnership with MedQuest Associates, Novant Health has long served patients in South Carolina and beyond with radiology services that include freestanding outpatient and mobile imaging centers.

Dr. Jeffery Reuben

Dr. Jeffery Reuben, a spine surgeon with the Spine Institute of the Carolinas and a member of the Hilton Head Hospital board, said he was encouraged by what he heard from others in the medical community.

“I think Novant Health brings many positive things to the table,” said Reuben, who’s worked at Hilton Head Regional Healthcare for 24 years. “I think their philosophy, strong primary care network is wonderful, and this community is growing at a pace that is outpacing the medical community as far as primary care is concerned. So, recruiting new physicians would be wonderful.”

And for his part, the care Reuben provides in Hilton Head stands as a powerful example of the difference quality health care can makes in the lives of others. He shared the story of one retiree who had severe back and leg pain but was worried about getting the spine surgery she needed, even though she had a medical background.

A family member arranged a tour of the unit, where the team put her at ease, and she decided to get the surgery. “She went from being unable to walk across the room to walking 3 miles,” he said. “It's so nice to have a patient come into your office and hug you and be very thankful. It’s moments like that that’s really what drives us to continue to do what we do.”

Dr. H. Del Schutte Jr.

Two hours up the coast in Mount Pleasant near Charleston, Dr. H. Del Schutte Jr., said he was looking forward to building on already outstanding care provided at East Cooper Medical Center. “I think the early vibe with Novant Health is that they really value physicians,” he said.

An orthopedic surgeon and director of the Comprehensive Joint Program at East Cooper Medical Center, Schutte said, “We provide highly specialized, highly state-of-the-art concierge care. I’m optimistic and would like to make even more out of this opportunity.”

Pound Toya MD
Dr. Toya Pound

Dr. Toya Pound has spent the last 22 years at the bedside of anxious mothers delivering babies at East Cooper Medical Center.

She and her team are proud of the care they provide to patients daily. “Just this morning I ran from the office at 9 a.m. to deliver a baby for a first-time mom,” she said. “They didn’t know what (gender) they were having, it was a beautiful thing.”

She’s looking forward to working with Novant Health leaders to ensure that delivering quality care continues, and they improve on what she’s helped build.

“I feel like we’ve got this amazing patient population, and this is a chance to provide even greater care,” she said.

South Carolina expansion: The details

As part of its expansion, Novant Health invested approximately $2.4 billion to acquire the following facilities:

Charleston County

East Cooper Medical Center (Mount Pleasant)

  • 15 physician clinics

Beaufort County

  • Hilton Head Hospital (Hilton Head)
  • Bluffton Okatie Outpatient Center (Okatie)
  • 12 physician clinics

Jasper County

  • Coastal Carolina Hospital (Hardeeville)
  • Tidewatch Free-Standing Emergency Department (Bluffton)