By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on May 3, 2021
In an effort to retain staff as the county continues to pursue the $2.9 million sale of its Home Health & Hospice Agency to national healthcare provider BrightSpring, Dare County Commissioners on May 3 unanimously approved a retention bonus for agency employees if they opt to stay on with the new owner. The measure was approved without comment by the commissioners.
“It’s important for the county, and for the citizens of the county who receive those services, that we have staff available to perform those services between now and whenever the transition might occur,” said County Manager Bobby Outten.
The retention bonus would represent 10 percent of an employee’s salary — 50 percent of which they would receive at the closing of the sale and the remainder at a predetermined date after the sale, Outten explained. The funding for the bonuses would come off the top of the purchase price.
“The cost of that [to the county], depending on how many employees choose to take advantage of that, would be something less than $100,000,” he added.
Late last year, the county began exploring the sale of the agency – stating that it could not financially sustain itself and had difficulty retaining employees. In March, the commissioners entered into a contract with a Raleigh law firm to identify private entities interested in purchasing the agency. Last month, they approved a non-binding Letter of Intent with BrightSpring, a for-profit agency and one of four entities that submitted offers to the county that ranged from $250,000 to BrightSpring’s high bid of $2.9 million.
The sale has been met with some resistance among agency employees, a half dozen of whom spoke during a public hearing at the April 19 Board of Commissioners meeting, arguing that selling the agency will have a negative impact on both the patients and the employees, and will not solve the agency’s hiring troubles.
The Voice also published an open letter written by an HH&H employee that was critical of the commissioners’ decision to pursue a sale with BrightSpring. News of the potential sale of the agency also triggered a social media and email campaign urging commissioners to keep the agency under the county umbrella. A petition to that end has received 475 signatures to date.