Press release from Mission Health, shared Jan. 22:

RUTHERFORDTON — Rutherford Regional Health System (RRHS) and Mission Health System Inc. (Mission) have finalized a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) for RRHS to become a full-member hospital of Mission, a North Carolina non-profit corporation. The signed MOU authorizes the RRHS board of trustees to move forward with necessary steps to complete negotiations regarding the proposed partnership.

The MOU outlines the major terms of the proposed relationship between RRHS and Mission. The due diligence and negotiation process will take place beginning immediately and a definitive partnership agreement will be finalized at the completion of those processes.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the RRHS board of trustees will maintain a strong, long-term voice in the strategic direction of the health system. In addition to allowing due diligence and negotiations to begin, the MOU outlines how the proposed relationship will meet the essential criteria established by the RRHS board of trustees at the onset of the affiliation process. These criteria include the partner’s willingness and ability to strengthen the quality of care provided at RRHS, protect employees, improve the health system’s financial viability, enhance the services it provides, collaborate with medical staff and to benefit the health and wellness of the community.

Dr. Ronald A. Paulus, president and CEO of Mission Health, said: “”Rutherford Regional Health System serves its community with great compassion, and we are eager to extend our collaboration with such a well-respected healthcare organization. Rutherford Regional and Mission Health both seek to provide our patients with safe, high-quality care that is convenient and close to home. Working together, we can achieve our bigger aim for all of the communities we serve: to get each patient to the desired outcome, first without harm, also without waste, and with an exceptional experience for the patient and their family.””

Mission and RRHS will now enter into a joint planning process to define and quantify the initiatives and resources that will be required to address existing and future needs of the RRHS service area. The planning process will focus on capital requirements, medical service providers and new and expanded services and will drive the long-term investment plan for RRHS facilities, providers and programs. The results of these joint planning efforts will be codified in a definitive partnership agreement between RRHS and Mission.

As part of a larger health system governed by and focused exclusively on western North Carolina, RRHS will gain economies of scale, management expertise, assistance with physician recruiting and a host of other capabilities. Mission not only has the ability to provide significant financial investment in RRHS, but also to work with hospital management, employees and medical staff to grow existing healthcare services. It also could support the development of more specialized healthcare services locally by recruiting new specialists or through shared specialists with other facilities in the region.

“For most of the last year, RRHS has explored the possible affiliations that would allow us to strengthen our local health system,” said Terry Hines, chairman of the RRHS board of trustees.

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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