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fr olsonWhen Becky Olson first began making house calls, she was barely old enough to walk. She spent her childhood following behind her physician father’s coattails when he made house calls and shadowing her mother, a nurse, through various clinics and classrooms. She saw, too, the bounty that poured into their home from patients who just couldn’t pay her father for his services — at least in monetary terms. 

op frJohn Beckman • Columnist

The discussions and debates regarding health care on both the local and national levels have been going on for years as people everywhere have tried to come to grips with rapidly rising costs, a huge number of uninsured people and loss of benefits from  providers. The volume of the discourse has risen to screaming new levels since the passing of the national Affordable Care Act and the botched launch of the website enrollment in recent weeks. The controversy has given rise to many instant geniuses on both sides with much of the opinion being offered short on fact, insight or applicability to the real world the rest of us inhabit. 

What seems to be missing in all this is addressing the underlying question: How does our great nation get health services to those who need it in an affordable, efficient, ethical manner?

By Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent

Since she started spreading the word about the new health care law, Cynthia Solesbee has encountered many questions — and opinionated remarks — about a sweeping change affecting tens of thousands of people without insurance across the far western part of the state.

Haywood County commissioners are going through the motions of selling Haywood Regional Medical Center to a national hospital chain with little in the way of pomp and circumstance.

The sale of the hospitals in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties to Duke LifePoint Healthcare next year will bring an unexpected windfall for local coffers come tax time.

fr hospicehouseJake Flannick • SMN Correspondent

A nearly decade-long dream to build an inpatient hospice house for the terminally ill and their families in Franklin is closer to becoming a reality.

fr hrmcsaleA parade of community leaders, doctors, nurses and hospital supporters voiced overwhelming support for the sale of Haywood Regional Medical Center to Duke LifePoint during a public hearing on Nov. 12. 

For years, enrolled members and leaders of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have called for the tribe to open a substance abuse rehabilitation center, but for some reason, the effort has never moved beyond words.

coverWhen a “for sale” sign went up on the hospitals in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties earlier this year, it was chalked up as inevitable, a sad but unavoidable trajectory faced by small, independent hospitals everywhere.

SEE ALSO: HRMC votes ‘yes’ to Duke LifePoint, outpouring of public support

At best, the safe harbor of a big hospital network would bring practical perks — be it regulatory expertise, doctor recruiting prowess, leverage haggling with insurance companies or buying power for medical supplies. 

The trio of MedWest hospitals in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties could be sold by next spring to Duke LifePoint Healthcare, joining a network of 60 community hospitals nationwide.

The aggressive timeline is contingent on due diligence by both sides and further negotiations to refine exactly what the sale would look like. Persistent financial struggles prompted the hospitals to put themselves up for sale in the spring. They advertised to prospective buyers and last week announced their top pick was Duke LifePoint. 

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