Fountain, Caroline, Digital Journalist; Posted: Mar 12, 2015 4:11 PM EST
Updated: Mar 12, 2015 4:11 PM EST; CaroMont and Gaston County Make Historic Agreement
Gaston County, N.C. (WJZY) — How healthy is your community? According to
County Health Rankings,
Gaston County is considered one of the least healthy communities in the state. It ranks
79 out of 100.
This Thursday, the Board of Gaston County Commissioners and CaroMont Health
are doing something about that. They’re signing a contract that
will invest millions into the health of people living there.
Both sides say this agreement comes after more than a decade of lawsuits
and negotiations. It starts off with a one-time payment of twenty-million
bucks to Gaston County.
“It’s time to make an investment in Gaston County, time to
put our money where our mouth is, put a stake in the ground,” said
CaroMont CEO Doug Luckett.
This Thursday, CaroMont Health also agreed to pump four-hundred and fifty-thousand
dollars into the community each year until 2055.
“We can begin to use that money for education, healthcare, human
and social services, parks and rec, and a lot of other things that we
couldn’t do before without raising the tax rate,” said Tracey
Philbeck, County Commission Chairman.
And as with most agreements there’s some give and take. The County
allowing the hospital to appoint more members of the health board of directors.
“With that lease agreement, it gives the hospital the ability to
appoint five members out of fourteen. It gives the hospital more autonomy
to speak for itself,” said Donnie Loftis, member of the CaroMont
Health Board of Directors.
But at the end of the day, both the county and the hospital say the contract
is mostly a win for the people living in Gaston County.
“Take some of these proceeds and reinvest them in healthcare initiatives.
Parks, green ways, anyway we can help the health of Gaston County,”
said County Commissioner Jason Williams.
CaroMont is also committed to spending two-hundred million dollars in capital
investments which will help economic development in the county.
“The emergency department is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation
right now that will enhance pediatric services and lessen wait time in
the ER,” said CaroMont CEO Doug Luckett.
Another addition coming in the next couple of years is a patient tower
that offers more critical care beds.
CaroMont is also working on health information technology which will bring
all of your records into one place so all healthcare providers in the
system can access it.
CaroMont Health serves close to two-hundred-thousand people.
And is the largest employer in the county with nearly thirty-nine hundred