Low-profile Novant stays on offense with expansions

 In November 2018

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moira Johnson

When Novant Health asked state regulators in mid-October to approve a $154 million hospital in Charlotte’s Ballantyne area, it didn’t issue a press release. That low-key approach is
the style of the Winston-Salem-based system, which has quietly plugged along while Atrium Health’s merger efforts and squabbles with physicians and Mission Health’s pending sale to HCA Healthcare dominated N.C. hospital news. Novant’s revenue has increased 21% over the last four years, while income has exceeded expenses by nearly $1.3 billion.

Further growth is likely after the Winston-Salem-based system opened a 36-bed hospital in Clemmons last year and a 46-bed site in the Charlotte suburb of Mint Hill in October. The proposed 36-bed medical center in south Charlotte would be its 16th hospital, joining six in the Charlotte area and five in or near Winston-Salem, says spokeswoman Ashton Miller. The system also has a hospital in Brunswick County and a joint venture involving several Virginia hospitals. It has added more than 3,700 employees over the last five years.

Also in October, Novant bought the Sears store at Winston-Salem’s Hanes Mall for $14.5 million without disclosing specific plans. The retailer’s lease runs through 2020, according to a Novant statement. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy a significant portion of contiguous [assembled] land in the shadow of Forsyth Hospital,” local commercial real-estate broker Raymond Collins told the Winston-Salem Journal. He was referring to Novant’s flagship 921-bed hospital.

With revenue nearing $5 billion, Novant is about half the size of Charlotte-based Atrium and three times bigger than Asheville-based Mission, which says it is too small to compete as hospitals consolidate. Should deal-making become a priority, Novant’s board of directors includes several members with significant merger experience, including former Bank of America executives Pat Phillips and Al de Molina.

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