By Outer Banks Voice on June 8, 2021
Dare County’s plan to sell its Home Health and Hospice (HH&H) Agency for $2.9 million to the Kentucky-based BrightSpring Health Services is expected to be formally approved when the Dare County Commissioners vote on the matter at their upcoming June 21 meeting.
The county issued a notice on June 8 stating that the HH&H item would be added to the agenda for that meeting. The commissioners have steadfastly defended the sale, despite some vocal and impassioned opposition spearheaded by HH&H employees.
Late last year, stating that it could not financially sustain the operation of HH&H, the county began exploring the sale of the agency – which provides in-home care to Dare County residents suffering from terminal illness or recovering from a recent illness, injury or surgery.
In March, the county commissioners entered into a contract with a Raleigh law firm to identify private entities interested in purchasing the agency. In April, 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. Those offers ranged from $250,000 to BrightSpring’s much higher bid of $2.9 million.
But news of the agreement with BrightSpring generated some pushback from those who made the argument that the care of the HH&H patients would suffer at the hands of an outside entity with no local ties. Some of that boiled over at an April 19 public hearing before the Dare Board of Commissioners at which about a dozen local residents urged the county to reconsider the sale.
The proposal to sell to BrightSpring also triggered a social media and email campaign, as well as a petition drive urging commissioners to keep the agency under the county umbrella. At times during the process, some commissioners grew somewhat defensive, particularly when responding to allegations that they had chosen BrightSpring for the windfall to be generate by the sale.
In early May, in an effort to retain staff for a pending sale, the commissioners approved retention bonuses for current HH&H employees. The bonus would represent 10 percent of an employee’s salary — 50 percent of which would be received at the closing of the sale.
It’s unclear at this point how may current employees will stay on after a sale.