$100M for Rex fund – Endowment backs health care

The Triangle is getting a $100 million new foundation, thanks to the $290 million acquisition of Rex Healthcare in Raleigh by the UNC Health Care System in Chapel Hill, The News & Observer reports.

The new John Rex Endowment aims to boost the quality of medicare in the region and ensure that public interests are served by Rex after the merger, UNC says.

UNC says $75 million of the endowment is earmarked for indigent care and community healthcare programs in the Triangle.

For 10 years, interest on those funds will be handed out as grants for health education and research.

The remaining one-fourth of the endowment will be returned to Rex Healthcare for capital projects.

The foundation’s board has been appointed by UNC and Rex. An executive for the foundation has not been named.

Jim Albright, CEO of Rex Healthcare, resigned Thursday. Eric Munson, the number two executive at UNC’s health system, was named interim CEO.

The law does not require UNC to establish the endowment as part of the merger, UNC spokesman John Stokes told the News & Observer.

UNC created the foundation to continue the mission of John Rex, the 19th century businessman who founded the hospital to provide medical care for the indigent.

Adam Searing, project director for the N.C. Health Access Coalition, worries that the foundation will serve the hospital rather than the community.

“Of course the hospitals will just take what they want from the endowment, since they’ll control the whole thing,” he told the N&O.

Jeffrey Houpt, chief executive officer of UNC Health Care Systems, disagrees.

“There will be ample input from the community,” Houpt told the N&O.  “We’re talking about adding more people.”

Searing also objects to Rex getting a quarter of the fund for capital projects.

“Why include the $25 million in the endowment, if it’s not really available to the entire community?” Searing said.

Rex representative Kevin Cain defended the plan, saying Rex provides services to all regardless of their ability to pay.

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