Partnership Advisory Group of the New Hanover County has recommended the approval of asset purchase agreement for Novant Health to acquire county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) for $1.5bn.

Provided after nearly 12 months of review, the recommendation will be sent to the NHRMC board of trustees for a vote on 1 October and the New Hanover County board of commissioners on 5 October.

Partnership Advisory Group was formed by the New Hanover County board of commissioners to allow citizen input on options for NHRMC. The group held 18 regular meetings and smaller discussions to review proposals and potential partners.

Partnership Advisory Group co-chair Barb Biehner said: “The agreement represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for NHRMC to get the resources and support it needs to grow and fulfill its mission to lead our community to outstanding health.”

The agreement, which enables an alliance between NHRMC and Novant Health,  includes an expanded collaboration with UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine.

Apart from the $1.5bn transaction value, Novant Health will invest more than $3bn to bolster and improve NHRMC’s services in the region.

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If the deal is successful, Novant Health and UNC Health have plans for medical education expansion, a children’s clinical service-line alliance with UNC Children’s, as well as creation of research clinical trials and population health studies programmes.

NHRMC President and CEO John Gizdic said: “The dedication and commitment of the Partnership Advisory Group has been tremendous.

“They have been thorough and thoughtful in their approach to considering every possibility and deciding what is best for the people of our community. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service.”

In May this year, Novant Health, which operates 15 hospitals, launched an emergency drone operation as part of its Covid-19 pandemic response.