NORTH WILKESBORO — Last week, the North Wilkesboro Board of Commissioners, the Board of WRMC Hospital Operating Corporation and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center entered into a non-binding, letter of intent (LOI) toward a long-term lease of Wilkes Regional Medical Center (WRMC).
It’s the second major milestone in the process which is expected to last several months.
Under the terms of its proposal, Wake Forest Baptist will invest $238 million in support of WRMC, the town of North Wilkesboro, the Wilkes community, and patients in the region it serves during the initial 30-year term of the lease.
The parties signed the LOI during the town board meeting. The commencement of the activities outlined in the LOI is important as WRMC, the town of North Wilkesboro and Wake Forest Baptist continue working toward the partnership between the two organizations.
North Wilkesboro officials said it was important to take the appropriate time needed to get to Tuesday’s signing.
“We announced our intentions to move forward with Wake Forest Baptist back in April, and the time spent during these more than three months on reaching this agreement reassures us we have the best partner to navigate WRMC through the growing health care needs of the North Wilkesboro community going forward,” said North Wilkesboro Town Commissioner Debbie Ferguson.
As outlined in the LOI, Wake Forest Baptist will transition WRMC and its affiliate, Wilkes Physician Network (WPN), to its electronic medical record system as soon as feasible.
“The transition period we are entering is a key step in the evolution of our partnership with Wake Forest Baptist,” said Eric Cramer, board chairman, WRMC Hospital Operating Corporation. “However, in no way will any of the transition activities disrupt WRMC or WPN operations, patient care or safety of our health system. Carolinas HealthCare System will continue to provide management and operational support under the terms of its agreement until its agreement with WRMC ends, and they have been a great partner for the past nine years in helping us become a very strong hospital positioned for a bright future.”
Over the next several months other due diligence and information technology (IT) transition activities outlined in the LOI will also be undertaken. Wake Forest Baptist will deploy and utilize an appropriate suite of advanced IT tools to support population health efforts in Wilkes County.
“Wilkes Regional does a tremendous job in serving its community,” said Wake Forest Baptist CEO John D. McConnell, M.D. “We see a great opportunity to grow clinical programs and continue effective recruitment and engagement of physicians that will ensure excellent care for Wilkes County citizens and benefit the Wilkes region.”
The agreement is expected to close by July 1, 2017.