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By the end of the month, Wilson County’s nearly 50-year-old home health agency will change ownership.
On Monday, county commissioners unanimously approved the contract to sell the county’s current home health agency to In-Home Partnership for $2 million.
In-Home Partnership is a joint venture between Duke LifePoint and LHC, which is based in Lafayette, Louisiana. Wilson Medical Center is a part of Duke LifePoint Healthcare following a 2014 merger where DukeLifePoint acquired an 80 percent stake in the hospital.
The purchasing contract, which had been negotiation for several weeks, was finalized on July 24, according to the contract.
Monday’s decision was the last step in the nearly four-month long process, which requires statutory compliance.
Commissioners determined the sale of the county’s home health agency “is in the public interest,” according to the resolution presented Monday.
“In making such determination, the board of commissioners has considered whether the proposed sale will meet the health-related needs of medically underserved groups such as low-income persons, racial and ethnic minorities and handicapped persons, and it finds that it does meet such needs,” the resolution states.
The closing date for the purchase is slated for Aug. 31, according to the contract.
County attorney Steve Beaman told commissioners that once they approved the contract Monday, In-Home Partnership would pay a $200,000 deposit that will be held in escrow until closing.
Wilson County Health Director Teresa Ellen said county home health employees who had 10 years or more of service either found employment with another county agency or have been placed in a position within the Wilson County Health Department. She said the remaining home health employees have accepted employment with the new owner.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Before the decision was made to sell the county’s home health agency, commissioners delayed their vote on whether to move forward. They agreed then they needed more time and had lingering questions that needed to be answered before making a decision.
In the interim, they received many phone calls, emails and letters regarding the sale of the home health agency, which is operated as a division of the health department.
A grassroots movement formed with nearly 600 patients, families and community members signing a petition opposing the agency’s sale.
LHC was one of only two companies that offered bids to purchase the agency now serving hundreds of patients. The other firm was HealthView Capital LLC, a privately held company based in Rocky Mount. That company also offered $2 million, but commissioners moved forward with LHC.
Many residents posed concerns about privatizing the agency. Some spoke out at meetings, saying they feared patients’ needs wouldn’t be adequately met, especially those who are uninsured and underinsured.
Officials have said the home health agency was operating at a budget deficit. Revenues declined due to cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates and a freeze in Medicaid rates. Ellen has said county leaders spent the past five years trying to sustain the home health agency.