UNC REX And Johnston Health Finalize Agreement To Expand Partnership

Joint Operating Agreement will improve care and access for Johnston and Wake county patients

RALEIGH AND SMITHFIELD – UNC REX Healthcare and Johnston Health have agreed to expand their partnership and work more closely together to enhance care, improve outcomes and increase access for patients in Johnston and Wake counties. The two organizations will combine operations via a Joint Operating Agreement that will take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

“Strengthening our collaboration will lead to many benefits for our patients and our hospitals,” said Ernie Bovio, president of UNC REX. “We can grow better together, and add new services and new facilities that will help serve our fast-growing communities.”

As one of the first steps of the new agreement, the two organizations will review and assess the community’s health needs to determine what their priorities should be in coming years. UNC REX has committed $125 million over the next 5 years to expand services and facilities in Johnston County.

“This is the evolution of a partnership that will benefit both organizations, our co-workers and our communities,” said Tom Williams, president of Johnston Health. “Through the years, we’ve worked together in areas such as radiation oncology, heart and vascular, gastroenterology and general surgery, as well as physician coverage that includes hospitalists and specialists such as neonatologists. We’ve collaborated on best practices and, most recently, prepared together for COVID-19.”

Mr. Williams said there will be no name change for the Smithfield or Clayton hospitals, however the collaboration should improve access to medical care closer to home. “We expect this partnership will lead to more convenient and cost-effective care, improved quality and other benefits for patients and our community. As one of the first steps in the new agreement, the two organizations will review and assess the community’s health needs to determine what their priorities should be in coming years. We want to determine how and where we can improve access and related services so that residents can get the care they need closer to home. UNC REX has committed to investing $125 million in Johnston County by adding and expanding services, which will benefit patients.”

We asked Mr. Williams if the expanded partnership would reduce medical costs. “Our ongoing commitment is to reduce health care costs. One of the partnership goals is to continue to seek efficiencies and transform care delivery in order to reduce out-of-pocket costs for our patients. We will evaluate expansion of outpatient services, ambulatory service centers, and primary care and urgent care – all areas that improve access and reduce costs.  This will be a large focus of our review of the community’s health needs,” he stated.

The venture could also lead to more jobs, Mr. Williams told Johnston County Report. “We will need to expand services in order to continue to meet demand in Johnston County.  This will require more staff, creating new opportunities and employment across Johnston County.”

In early 2014, Johnston Health formed a joint venture with UNC Health, a partnership that has improved the health and wellness of residents of Johnston County and surrounding areas. That included opening a 50-bed community hospital on Johnston Health’s Clayton campus in 2015, and recruiting new physicians and other providers.

The new agreement will expand that relationship to create new opportunities for adding specialized medical care and services closer to home for Johnston and Wake county patients.