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Novant Health acquires rural hospital, plans to invest $50M in improvements

Article

The system hopes to transform Pender Medical Center into a true community general hospital within five years.

After managing a rural North Carolina hospital for two years, Novant Health is buying the medical center and vows to transform the facility.

Novant Health is buying Pender Medical Center and plans to invest $50 million over a 10-year period to transform the facility into a community general hospital. (Image: Novant Health)

Novant Health is buying Pender Medical Center and plans to invest $50 million over a 10-year period to transform the facility into a community general hospital. (Image: Novant Health)

Novant Health is acquiring the Pender Medical Center and says it will invest $50 million over the next 10 years to improve the hospital. Novant says the goal is for the medical center to be transformed into a true community general hospital within five years.

The Pender County Board of Commissioners voted to finalize the agreement last week. Novant Health and the county expect to close the transaction within six months.

Novant Health has outlined several goals and improvements as it revamps the medical center and touts plans to expand care in Pender County, which is about 30 minutes from Wilmington, N.C.

The health system says it will maintain the medical center’s status as a critical access hospital and improve acute care and ambulatory care. Novant plans to improve access to primary and specialty care and recruit more specialty care physicians to the region.

Novant Health has been managing Pender Medical Center since 2021, taking over operations of the facility when Novant purchased the New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Shelbourn Stevens, president of Novant Health’s coastal region, called the acquisition of Pender Medical Center another step to expand healthcare access to the 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,” Stevens said in a statement.

Jackie Newton, chairwoman of the Pender County board of commissioners, welcomed the prospect of the medical center becoming a community general hospital, saying it is “something we do now have today and something we desperately need.”

Ruth Glaser, the president and chief operating officer of Novant Health Pender Medical Center, expressed optimism about the transaction.

“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 in a statement. “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, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., operates 15 hospitals and more than 800 outpatient locations.

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