Press release from Mission Health, shared Feb. 3:

Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. Photo courtesy of Mission Health
Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. Photo courtesy of Mission Health

HIGHLANDS – On Friday, Jan. 31, officials with Highlands-Cashiers Hospital (HCH) and Mission Health completed the legal process required to bring HCH on as a full member of Mission Health. This action follows approval of the arrangement by the HCH and Foundation boards of directors as well as Mission Health’s board of directors during their respective meetings on Jan. 23.

“This is an exciting time for our hospital and the community we serve, “said Charlie Sheehan, chair of the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Board of Directors. “When we began this initiative, our board wanted to partner with an organization that would maintain local governance, enhance our focus on quality patient care, facilitate physician recruitment and retention, improve the hospital’s financial viability and expand our community’s access to a broader spectrum of health services. I could not be more pleased with how our relationship with Mission Health – one of the nation’s top 15 health systems – has developed. I believe the results will be exceptional for our hospital and, more importantly, for our community. “

“I’m so pleased to welcome this important community institution to our Mission Health family,” said Dr. Ronald A. Paulus, president and CEO of Mission Health. “Their dedication to their community and the patients they serve through an unwavering focus on quality mirrors Mission Health’s bigger aim: to get each patient to the desired outcome, first without harm, also without waste and with an exceptional experience for the patient and family. I look forward to what the future will hold for our extended Mission family. It is critical that local, not-for-profit health care remains available for all Western North Carolina residents.”

Under the structured terms of the definitive agreement the local community and HCH board of directors will maintain a strong voice in the strategic direction of the hospital. The HCH board of directors will consist of 12 members – nine local and three Mission representatives. HCH CEO Craig James becomes an employee of Mission Health while all other employees remain HCH staff members. The HCH Foundation will remain a separate entity under local ownership and control and will continue to be responsible for providing financial support for the hospital’s capital and operational needs.

“All foundation assets and contributions will be stewarded by the HCH Foundation to benefit the patients and communities served by Highlands-Cashiers Hospital,” said Earle Mauldin, chair of the HCH Foundation.

“I want to thank our board’s negotiations committee for their dedicated work in the joint planning process that resulted in our definitive partnership agreement,” said James. “We are gaining the benefits of partnering with one of the nation’s top 15 health systems that is devoted exclusively to serving the health care needs in Western North Carolina in a community-owned, not-for-profit model. This new partnership will provide HCH critically important advantages for ensuring the future of local health care services for our area. We also look forward to working together in strengthening our position to navigate the changes in health care coming our way from both the state and federal level.”

Sheehan expressed to both the Hospital and the Foundation Boards his appreciation for their support, vision and willingness to embrace major structural change in the interest of maintaining and improving the quality of health care services offered to our communities.

About Highlands-Cashiers Hospital

Highlands-Cashiers Hospital (HCH) is a not-for-profit community hospital serving Highlands, Cashiers and the surrounding North Carolina mountain communities. Located on Highway 64 between the two towns, HCH offers diagnostic, surgical and acute patient care through onsite professional services or provides a referral to other regional health care systems. Emergency care is physician-staffed 24/7. HCH has 24 beds for acute care services and 80 beds in the Eckerd Living Center, a skilled nursing facility. There are four hospital-owned physician clinics in Highlands and Cashiers. The hospital’s Foundation, with the generous support of the community, provides significant operating resources to the facility and its programs. For more information, please visit

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

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  1. As one of the early supporters of building the hospital, the closing
    Of Highlands Cashiers Hospital will have drastic effects on the
    year ’round and thousands of seasonal visitors who depend on
    the hospital and the 24-7 Emergency Room facilities!
    We have contributed combined millions of dollars to
    provide this hospital in area otherwise deprived of
    year ’round medical facilities.
    Has Obamacare created this gigantic loss in our mountains?