Hospital wars: The battle for patients in Asheville, NC
If this is a war, Mission Health System has crossed the demilitarized zone and set up a beachhead near the enemy's fortress. While the language is a tad melodramatic, hospital officials, physicians and some politicians have used such martial terminology to describe Mission's latest expansion, a partnership with Hendersonville's Pardee Memorial Hospital. The partners are building an 80,000-square foot medical office building and urgent care center literally on the Henderson-Buncombe county line—territory traditionally the domain of Park Ridge Hospital, a 103-bed facility just four miles south. They're saying they'll do the very thing that we do—they'll duplicate all our community services to drive all the potential competitors out of business, so one day there will be a dogwood on every single hospital health care provider in this region," said Park Ridge Vice President Jason Wells, referring to Mission's symbol, the dogwood tree flower. The battle for customers in south Buncombe and north Henderson counties is emblematic of the strategy at hospitals nationally and in North Carolina, where patients spent nearly $20 billion in 2009.
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