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Commissioners appoint one of their own to hospital board

LOUISBURG -- The Franklin County Board of Commissioners went with an experienced hand when it nominated Commissioner Sidney Dunston to represent the county on the new hospital's board of trustees.

Commissioners were tasked with nominating four people to serve on the Maria Parham Medical Center Board of Trustees, but besides Dunston, the only other names mentioned tongue-in-cheek, were Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Superman, Spider-Man and Captain America.

Commission Chairman Cedric Jones said Dunston was the clear choice of the board.

"We've asked one of our commissioners over the past two or three years to be our representative in this action to get the hospital re-opened," Jones said during the board's Monday night meeting.

"Commissioner Dunston has served very well doing that," he said. "I think we ought to give him the opportunity to serve on this board."

Dunston won unanimous approval from his fellow board members.

When reminded that the board would need three other candidates, Commissioner David Bunn -- who seconded Commissioner Michael Schriver's motion to select Dunston -- suggested the Disney trio of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, joking if he could get that in the form of a motion.

"You could have at least did Superman, Spider-Man and Captain America," Schriver said.

Selecting a board of trustees nominee is the result of the purchase agreement the county has with Duke Lifepoint/Maria Parham.

Novant Health shut down the hospital in October 2015, citing dwindling usage and funds.

By October 2016, commissioners chose Duke Lifepoint over WakeMed and a local medical group to re-establish comprehensive healthcare at the hospital site in Louisburg.

By September of 2017, Franklin County reached an agreement with Duke Lifepoint to bring an emergency room, mental health care and, perhaps, other services back to Franklin County.

Among the tenants in the purchase agreement was that Franklin County would have one seat on the Maria Parham Medical Center Board of Trustees.

Commissioners are responsible for nominating a person to fill the two-year term. It will be up to Maria Parham Medical Center to ultimately make the appointment.

Commissioner Michael Schriver said he wasn't interested in serving as a trustee and no other commissioner expressed interest.

The trustee, though, does not have to be a county commisisoner.

Maria Parham Franklin is slated to host an open house on Oct. 3, from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and will open their 100 Hospital Drive emergency room location on Oct. 8.

It was not clear exactly when Maria Parham would make the Franklin County appointment to the board of trustees.

As far as their medical venture in Franklin County, Maria Parham Health/Duke Lifepoint Healthcare CEO Bert Beard said they are ready to go.

"We are very excited that three years of collaboration on a state and local level have brought us to the point that we can return vital health services to Franklin County and the surrounding communities," Beard said in an email.

"Everyone is invited to our ribbon cutting ceremony and open house event on Oct. 3 to see our emergency room and geriatric behavioral health unit before we open the following week."


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