County throws support behind sale of Lake Norman Regional

Iredell County’s board of commissioners has made official its support of Novant Health’s acquisition of two county hospitals, Lake Norman Regional in Mooresville and Davis Regional in Statesville.

On Tuesday, county commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter of support to U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell for the $320 million transaction. This follows by a month the FTC’s filing of a complaint to block the acquisition, “alleging anti-trust or monopoly issues,” said County Attorney Lisa Valdez in Tuesday’s regular county board meeting.

Citing the county’s “significant population growth” — “a growth rate nearly double that of the State of North Carolina,” the letter points out — “Iredell needs another hospital to join its existing hospital, Iredell Memorial, to provide high-quality healthcare and medical services to our residents.

“It is our view that this transaction will help ensure that the Lake Norman Regional and Davis hospitals not only stay open but improve the quality and expand the availability of services to our community,” the letter reads. “Access to high-quality healthcare is very important to both our growing community and to our ability to recruit and retain employers.”

Board Vice-Chair Bert Connolly didn’t mince words during Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the county board. Referring to the FTC’s complaint about the acquisition, he said, “To think that our big government — that’s how I refer to it — is more worried about this than the things that really matter to us as a population is sad,” he said. “We allow for a border that is just overrun, and we get no attention to that, but we get attention to this: the private sale of a hospital buying another hospital.  

“I understand they have to make sure certain things are in place,” Connolly added, “but if they mess around with this too much and they shut Lake Norman Regional down, we’re going to have a problem — a big, big problem — in this county.”

Mooresville Commissioner Lisa Qualls has voiced the same concern

The county’s letter points out “the nearly overnight transition of Davis from a general acute care hospital with emergency services into a behavioral health facility,” saying it “came as a surprise to the board.” 

“If Lake Norman Regional took a similar trajectory, the impact on our residents and existing facilities would be substantial,” the letter reads. “The Lake Norman Regional facility already receives a lower Leapfrog safety rating than other hospitals in our area, and we are not aware of steps that are being taken by their current owner (Community Health Systems) to turn that facility around or expand its services. 

“Our fear is that the quality and availability of services at those facilities will continue to decline or, even worse, that the current owner will stop operating Lake Norman Regional as a general acute care hospital.”

County Board Chair Melissa Neader pointed out that while Lake Norman Regional is in the southern end of the county, “it still sees patients from throughout the county and neighboring counties, too.” 

The letter of support, said Neader, “aligns with the importance of taking care of our citizens. When we see the fact that our citizens don’t have the care that they need at a given moment, it shines a light on things.” 

“Our residents, and those in neighboring counties, deserve to have the best healthcare opportunities available to them,” the county’s letter concludes. “Robust access to quality healthcare is a requirement for any thriving community. We therefore support Novant’s efforts to ensure that Lake Norman Regional and Davis can provide that level of care for years to come.”


One thought on “County throws support behind sale of Lake Norman Regional

  1. While I agree with the sentiment regarding Novant acquisition of LKN Regional, to equate the FTC decision to Congress unwillingness to fix the southern border is incongruous. But our local politicians all seem to want to run on the “Border issue”.

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Hi! I’m Jaime

I was a newspaper reporter in Mooresville, NC for a decade and covered local government issues from 2003 to 2006.