By Michele Dotson

Keynote speaker Bill Leonard, president of Carolinas Medical Center-University

Keynote speaker Bill Leonard, president of Carolinas Medical Center-University

Keynote speaker Bill Leonard, president of Carolinas Medical Center-University, spoke on the state of healthcare reform and the impact Carolinas HealthCare System has on the Mint Hill area.

The April 24 Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce meeting was held at Pine Lake Country Club.

Leonard described how the unintended consequences of the 2,000-plus page healthcare reform bill have proved challenging, not only to consumers, but also to healthcare providers.

“For the first time ever, Carolinas Healthcare projected a loss based on cuts in government reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid,” says Leonard. 

Leonard went on to say that plans to recoup unreimbursed care was going to come from state expansion of the Medicaid programs as part of the Affordable Care Act. However, the Supreme Court ruled to allow states to opt out of that requirement. North Carolina’s legislature chose not to accept federal funds to expand the program.

Even though a loss is projected for this year, Leonard says the Carolinas HealthCare System is financially sound and planning for the future, especially in Mint Hill.

“We have a new, free standing emergency department opening on June 23 on Exit 36, Rocky River Road,” says Leonard. “We will offer full-blown emergency care with doctors and nurses who have received specialized emergency care training.”

Leonard says stand-alone emergency facilities can handle patients faster and more conveniently than traditional emergency departments within a hospital.
“We’re talking about a two-hour door to door experienced, compared with a three-hour hospital time frame,” he says. “Patients can even go online and see the wait time, which is refreshed every 15 minutes.”

Carolinas HealthCare is finalizing plans to bring cardiology, urology, orthopedic, and dialysis services to Mint Hill.

Leonard says he’s proud of the positive impact his organization has on the Mint Hill area.

“Right now Carolinas HealthCare provides 461 jobs in Mint Hill,” he says. “Mint Hill is also home to the largest virtual critical care unit in the country.”

In a virtual critical care unit, critical care patients from all over North Carolina are monitored from one main location.

Leonard says completion of I-485 will make access to the university area from Mint Hill quick and easy for future employment opportunities.

Opening in the summer of 2014 will be a location providing radiation services, followed by a long-term acute care facility within the University Hospital.

Leonard says Carolinas HealthCare continues to plan for the future by thinking outside the box to provide great, cost-effective healthcare, and investing in talent.

Also at the chamber meeting:

  • New members Kenneth and Tamra Davis from Custom Memorie, and Dylan Morrison from  City Wide Exterminators.
  • Greg and Cindy Taylor displayed a Tower Garden for growing plants using aeroponics, a state-of-the-art vertical growing system.
  • Mint Hill Arts announced opportunity for local business to invest in the arts through donor programs. Also, an upcoming dinner fundraiser “A Night in Paris” will be held May 19 at 7 pm.
  • Bark, Bones & Biscuits will host a “Pawz Party” to raise funds and pet food for the Humane Society, Animal Control, and Fabulous McGrady and Friends Foundation.
  • Independence High School is in need of proctors for spring state testing June 2, 3, 6, and 9.
  • The Black and White Theatre Company will present Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest May 1-4 at The Spotlight Performing Arts Academy 7714 Matthews-Mint Hill Road. Tickets are $6 and may be purchased at the door. Anyone interested in advertising space in the program should contact blackandwhitetheatre@yahoo.com providing the subject line advertising.
  • Discover Mint Hill will be Saturday, May 3 at the McEwen Historic Village.