HCA Healthcare
May 02, 2019

SOURCE: Asheville Citizen Times
AUTHOR: John Boyle

Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart-aleck answers and the real deal:

Question: As part of the agreement in the sale of Mission to HCA Healthcare, it is my understanding that they are to open a facility of over 100 beds for the treatment of mental health related issues. Will HCA be using existing facilities, or will this be a newly constructed building? Where will it be located and when will it open? Will the facility be treating children, adolescents and adults? In addition to the traditional mental health problems, will they also be providing treatment for alcohol and drug addiction? Also, I've been wondering what does HCA stand for?

My answer: I don't know. Let's try out a few possibilities: "Hellacious Care Abounds" has a ring. Or how about, "Helping Cure Ailments?" In a nod to Mount Pisgah, maybe "Healing Crystals, Alright?" "Hello Cash Avalanche!" seems a bit cynical, but hey, I'm a cynical guy. You're welcome in advance, HCA.

Real answer: Yes, a badly needed mental health care facility is in the plans.

"From the beginning of our partnership, HCA Healthcare has made clear their commitment to sustaining and expanding Mission Health’s capacity to care for the behavioral health needs of our community," said Mission spokeswoman Nancy Lindell. "We are committed to at least a 120-bed facility within five years from closing on the acquisition and are in the due diligence process of exploring building site options and evaluating service needs."

Lindell added, "As with our current programs, we will continue providing services to children, adolescents, adults and geriatric patients."

Mission and HCA closed on their merger deal Feb. 1, with the Nashville-based for-profit corporation acquiring Mission Health's operations and assets for $1.5 billion.

The Citizen Times covered the deal extensively, and Mission has issued numerous press releases about it, including one last August announcing a sale agreement had been reached. That article noted that "a hospital for behavioral health — the term often is used interchangeably with mental health — would be created as part of the deal, but it gave no further details."

We reported "the contract between Mission and HCA says HCA will control the budget, design and other aspects of the (mental health) hospital. It says it must make reasonable efforts to obtain permits for the project and must complete the hospital within five years after permits have been

Rowena Buffett Timms, senior vice president for government and community relations at Mission, said last August the new hospital will offer services paralleling those Mission now offers "but in a significantly expanded facility to accommodate the dramatic increase in need for this population."

The main visitor entrance to Mission Hospital. (Photo: Angeli Wright)

"This is a huge win for our region, where patients often are forced to board in emergency departments for days or weeks," Timms said then. "We are in the midst of an unprecedented behavioral health crisis and this new facility, while not curative, will provide some welcome relief."

Now, as far as what "HCA" really stands for, Lindell answered that one, too.

"As for HCA, it originally stood for Hospital Corporation of America; it has recently been rebranded HCA Healthcare, to honor the organization’s original name while recognizing that its vast network provides care in multiple settings, not just hospitals," Lindell said.

This is the opinion of John Boyle. Contact him at (828) 232-5847 or by email