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Proposed joint venture will help hospital system strengthen its operations and advance healthcare in western North Carolina

Rutherfordton, NC (September 10, 2013) – The Rutherford Regional Health System (RRHS) Board of Trustees has advanced efforts to strengthen RRHS and enhance its ability to provide outstanding care to patients in Rutherford County and surrounding areas.  The Board has signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture with Duke LifePoint Healthcare. 

Under the terms of the proposed joint venture, RRHS and Duke LifePoint would share ownership of the hospital system. Governance would be shared equally between RRHS and Duke LifePoint, giving the community a long-term voice in RRHS’ strategic direction.

“Our board is excited to take this next step in securing the right strategic partner for RRHS, our employees, medical staff, patients, and community,” said Terry Hines, Chairman of the RRHS Board of Trustees. “Duke LifePoint offers Rutherford Regional a unique partnership option that can provide us with clinical and operational resources to strengthen our hospital for the future, offer more opportunities to our employees, bring new physicians to our community, and enhance and grow our services.”

Duke LifePoint’s joint venture proposal met each of the goals set forth by the RRHS Board of Trustees, including commitments to:

  • Maintain and expand access to healthcare services;
  • Maintain and enhance the long-term viability of RRHS;
  • Provide depth in management support and systems;
  • Maintain a local role in governance of RRHS;
  • Enhance support for clinical quality and compliance;
  • Develop and support new clinical programs that meet service area needs;
  • Recruit and retain physicians;
  • Protect employees;
  • Make needed investments in technology, facilities and people; and
  • Maintain support of the local economy

Cindy Buck, Chief Executive Officer of RRHS, said, “The Duke LifePoint proposal features significant financial commitments to enhance quality care, patient safety and service lines that will allow Rutherford Regional the opportunity to better serve patients throughout our community. It is exciting to align with an organization that brings the demonstrated quality expertise of Duke and the extensive management expertise of LifePoint together to benefit our employees, physicians and patients. Our goal is to be an organization where our employees and physicians find purposeful, worthwhile work and our patients receive an excellent patient care experience every time. I believe with Duke LifePoint as our partner, we will achieve our goals.”

The retained assets of RRHS and the proceeds from the transaction would eliminate RRHS’s debt, and the remaining assets would be used to fund charitable and community needs.

“Duke LifePoint is dedicated to working with community hospitals to strengthen their operations, and improve their clinical and quality programs,” said William J. Fulkerson, Jr., MD, Executive Vice President of Duke University Health System. “Rutherford Regional is a great hospital dedicated to providing quality care to its community. We believe it is an ideal fit for our growing network of hospitals and look forward to exploring this proposed joint venture further.”

As part of Duke LifePoint, RRHS would have access to nationally recognized clinical, safety, quality and operations experts. It also would have the ability to collaborate and share ideas and best practices with staff at nearly 60 peer community hospitals in 20 states through the LifePoint system.

“At Duke LifePoint, we are committed to strengthening community care and keeping care local,” said LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William F. Carpenter III.  “Our team is delighted to have been chosen as Rutherford Regional’s strategic partner and have the opportunity to become part of its community. We look forward to working with the hospital system’s leadership, employees and physicians to explore ways we can collaborate to advance healthcare delivery in this region.”

Duke LifePoint currently operates four hospitals and a company that offers hospital-based catheterization labs and mobile catheterization services:

  • Maria Parham Medical Center, Henderson, NC
  • Person Memorial Hospital, Roxboro, NC
  • Twin County Regional Healthcare, Galax, VA
  • Marquette General Health System, Marquette, MI
  • DLP Cardiac Partners, Charlotte, NC

Duke LifePoint also has signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture with Wilson Medical Center in Wilson, NC.

The memorandum of understanding is a non-binding agreement that outlines the terms upon which RRHS and Duke LifePoint may move forward to finalize the proposed joint venture.  Following a due diligence and negotiation process, which is projected to take 60-90 days, the parties intend to enter into a definitive agreement.  The agreement would then be subject to review by the Attorney General of North Carolina before being finalized.    

About Rutherford Regional Health System

Rutherford Regional Health System (RRHS), based in Rutherfordton, NC, is a not-for-profit hospital system serving the people of Rutherford County and portions of Polk and Cleveland counties, North Carolina. With a team of more than 130 physicians, approximately 700 clinical and support staff, and 200 volunteers, RRHS offers a full range of services and the latest technology to meet the healthcare needs of the community. Thomson Reuters has recognized RRHS as a four-time Top 100 National Hospital, and Becker’s Hospital Review of Chicago has named RRHS as one of America’s top community hospitals each of the last four years. Additionally, in 2012, RRHS was recognized as a “Top Quality Performer in Key Quality Measures” by The Joint Commission, which accredits RRHS.

About Duke LifePoint Healthcare

Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System, Inc. and LifePoint Hospitals® (NASDAQ: LPNT), was established to build a dynamic network of hospitals and healthcare providers. The joint venture, which brings together LifePoint's experience in community-based hospital management and Duke's world-renowned leadership in clinical service, is strengthening and improving healthcare delivery by providing community hospitals the clinical, quality and operational resources they need to grow and prosper. For additional information, visit


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