UNC REX Healthcare in Raleigh and Johnston Health in Smithfield announced Friday that they had agreed to combine their operations, expanding a partnership they first forged in 2014.
While the details are still being worked out, and there was no mention of how the new arrangement would affect personnel, the hospitals said in a press release that they had tentatively agreed on a “long-term commitment to opening new medical facilities in Johnston County.”
In 2014 UNC Health Care, the parent of UNC REX Healthcare, provided the Johnston County hospital system with almost $60 million to finance the expansion of the Johnston Medical Center in rural Clayton. The medical center was converted into a 50-bed hospital from an outpatient center.
Chuck Elliott, the CEO of Johnston Health, said in the press release, “Recognizing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, Johnston Health, UNC REX and UNC Health Care have been working together over the past year to identify ways that we can ensure our organizations will be poised to continue to provide quality care for our patients, secure employment opportunities for our co-workers and contribute to the economic growth in our communities.”
Steve Burriss, the president of UNC REX, added, “It’s no secret that the health care landscape is constantly changing, and expanding our relationship with Johnston Health offers us an opportunity to better serve patients.”
Reaching underserved populations is among the partnership’s goals, UNC Health Care spokesman Alan M. Wolf said, and the hospitals have called for additional bilingual staff and translators to help serve the two counties’ growing Latino populations.
“They [Johnston Health and UNC REX] treat a lot of Hispanic patients and they have a team of translators on staff and they have bilingual physicians and nurses,” Wolf said. “We are certainly looking forward to this as one of the areas where we think there’s going to be a lot of growth just by the nature of the state’s population.”
A 2018 Census estimate indicates that 24 percent of Johnston County’s population, or about 28,000 people, is Latino.