HCA Healthcare
February 15, 2019

SOURCE: Asheville Citizen Times

Mission Health president and CEO Dr. Ron Paulus. (Photo11: William Woody / wwoody@citizen-times.com / Special to the Citizen-Times)

ASHEVILLE — Mission Health president and CEO Dr. Ron Paulus plans to leave the position to become a strategic adviser for the system's recent buyer, HCA Healthcare, an email obtained by the Citizen Times shows.

In the email sent Thursday to all Mission employees, Paulus, the organization's chief executive since 2010, said his new position focuses on Mission's integration with HCA, supports legislative efforts to increase access to care and provides counsel relative to its relationships with other health systems.

The announcement comes about two weeks after the Nashville-based for-profit HCA finalized its $1.5 billion acquisition of Mission, a move championed by Paulus and the now-defunct Mission board for various benefits and protections the deal offers to residents of Western North Carolina.

"I am incredibly honored to have served together with all of you for nearly a decade," Paulus said in the email. "We have accomplished so much together by make care better, more reliable and more efficient."

He added that with the HCA deal in place, "we have set the foundation for a remarkable future, both for the health system and for the region."

'I have every confidence in HCA Healthcare'

Mission did not immediately respond to a reporter's request for comment late Thursday about Paulus' departure.

He joined Mission in September 2010 after having previously served as executive vice president of clinical operations at Geisinger Health System and before that as co-founder and president of CareScience Inc., both in Pennsylvania. In departing his role at Mission, Paulus said a division president will be appointed "who has significant prior experience within HCA Healthcare."

"I have every confidence in HCA Healthcare and their role in the future of Mission Heath," he said.

The email touts several accomplishments of his tenure in Asheville, the last of which is the system's sale to HCA, triggering the creation of Dogwood Health Trust, a successor foundation that has vowed to spend its proceeds addressing social determinants of health in the region.

Other key people have left Mission

Mission's board voted to execute a letter of intent with HCA in March 2018, months after identifying HCA as a potential buyer and sending its senior leaders to visit its campus in Nashville. The two sides signed the asset purchase agreement in early September. It was allowed to go through without a legal challenge from state regulators after negotiating a series of changes into the agreement in a review by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

Paulus, who was not made available for interviews following closure of the deal, called it "a tremendous win for the people and communities that we serve."

Several people already have left key positions at Mission. They include Dr. John Ball, formerly the Mission board chairman now on the Dogwood board, and Janice Brumit, a board member now heading Dogwood's 11-member board.

Brumit said this month the foundation's board soon will decide on engaging a CEO search firm as well as talking to potential board candidates to represent Polk, Rutherford and McDowell counties.