BURGAW, NC – During a specially called meeting today, the Pender County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to finalize an agreement with Novant Health that includes a $50 million commitment to improve the Pender Medical Center in Burgaw, North Carolina, and increase access to health care services across Pender County.
This agreement is designed to improve health care across Pender County because Novant Health plans to bring quality care to more people, thereby reducing health disparities across the region.
In an outline of the proposal, Novant Health has committed to spending $50 million within the next 10 years in specific areas that include proposed building and facility improvements, new permanent medical equipment, and recruitment of new health care professionals to expand services. A priority goal within that timeframe is for Novant Health to further develop Pender Medical Center into a community general hospital.
“Novant Health’s commitment puts Pender Medical Center on a path to becoming a true community general hospital within 5 years, something we do not have today and something we desperately need in Pender County,” said Board Chair Jackie Newton. “The Board of Commissioners is united around the goal of securing the best possible future for our hospital and all our citizens. We have a framework of a deal with Novant Health that achieves that goal,” she added.
Details on the negotiations are confidential under state law but support five key goals agreed upon between Novant Health and Pender County. In addition to developing Pender Medical Center into a community general hospital within five years, the goals include: maintaining Pender Medical Center’s status as a critical access hospital, improving access to primary and specialty care in Pender County, recruiting specialty care physicians to offer services in Pender County, and maintaining and improving acute and ambulatory facilities in Pender County.
“This is another demonstration of Novant Health’s intentional work to improve and grow access to care across the region,” said Shelbourn Stevens, president of Novant Health’s coastal region. “This long-term commitment from Novant Health builds on New Hanover Regional Medical Center's legacy of support for the community and its critical access hospital for over two decades.”
Ruth Glaser, the president and chief operating officer of Novant Health Pender Medical Center, welcomed the agreement. “Novant Health has already served as a trusted partner to our community, and we are fortunate to be in the position to benefit from this strategic investment in our county’s healthcare,” Glaser said. “We are excited about the success and future of Pender Medical Center and what this means for our patients, our team members and our providers.”
Novant Health has been operating Pender Medical Center since 2021 under an operating agreement that was related to Novant Health’s purchase of New Hanover Regional Medical Center. The investment commitments announced today are part of the transaction that will make Novant Health the owner of Pender Medical Center.
“The investment commitments Novant Health made will secure a better health care future for our community and gives us the certainty that we need to move forward on more detailed plans,” said Wendy Fletcher-Hardee, Pender County Commissioner and a county representative appointed to the Pender Medical Center Board of Trustees. Commissioner Fletcher-Hardee is also Vice-Chair of the Board of Commissioners.
The County and Novant Health will now proceed to finalize legal documents in September and close the transaction within six months. “As we work toward closing, we know that our citizens will have questions about what will happen and when. We are committed to answering those questions as we have more information, but we are confident that Novant Health’s investments will achieve the primary goal of improved health care at Pender Medical Center,” said Chair Newton.
The County, in addition to its professional staff, was represented by Ascendient Healthcare Advisors and the K&L Gates law firm who assisted in the negotiations.