The Cone Health Merger Is Now Off
“The contrast between my approach in seeking clarifications and greater transparency and results for Greensboro, and the Mayor’s sweeping assurances (which ultimately did not agree with the conclusions the organizations reached) cannot be more striking.”
The proposed merger between Cone Health of Greensboro and Sentara, a Virginia based health system, will not take place. After ten months of negotiations the two organizations jointly determined that “each of our communities and key stakeholders require support and commitments from our respective organizations that are better served by remaining independent.”
When the possibility of a merger was announced I contacted officials at Cone to learn as much as I could about the merger and its potential impacts. As an elected official it was important that I have those conversations. Cone is not only Greensboro’s largest employer, it has historically provided outstanding service in ways that touch all our lives. Cone is a bedrock of our community and economy.
Ultimately my concerns about the merger, which I expressed to Cone, were confirmed by Cone officials through their rejection of the merger. The benefits of the merger were outweighed by concerns about the ability of the merged organization to provide the level of care currently enjoyed in Greensboro.
Besides conversations with Cone officials, I also provided public comments to the North Carolina Attorney General’s office where I noted that “When hospitals in other communities have merged into or been acquired by non-area hospitals firm commitments have been made to the communities from which they departed or lost local control. These commitments have, among other things, helped ensure that vulnerable and marginalized community members receive the medical care and support they need and are not harmed by the requested mergers or acquisitions.”
In contrast, Mayor Nancy Vaughan filed comments with the Attorney General assuring him the merger would “only lead to providing high-quality, affordable, and accessible health care in more ways and more places.” This was clearly not the view of the Attorney General who yesterday released a statement that said, in part, “Bigger doesn’t always mean better. In fact, it often means worse and more expensive…Consolidations drive up already inordinate health care cost.“
The contrast between my approach in seeking clarifications and greater transparency and results for Greensboro, and the Mayor’s sweeping assurances (which ultimately did not agree with the conclusions the organizations reached) cannot be more striking. While we should always promote and support the organizations who do business here, this does not mean we do not seek answers to questions, use our influence to improve care, and take the time to understand complex issues.
The citizens of Greensboro expect no less from us and we must always put their interests first.
I hope you’ll join me in bringing Effective Leadership and Real Progress to the Mayor’s office.