Ernie Bovio is president of the Novant Health Coastal region and Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Ernie Bovio

When I walk the halls of our Novant Health facilities and speak with doctors, nurses and team members, I can hear and feel a tremendous sense of pride. We’re proud of our broad range of care offerings and collective focus on safety, quality and patient experience.

As I near my 100-day mark as president of Novant Health’s coastal region and reflect on our efforts to expand access to services, I appreciate the teamwork and fulfilled commitments that carried us to this point.

February marked three years since New Hanover Regional Medical Center joined Novant Health. When you look back at 2023 and even just the beginning of this year, we have phenomenal results to share. We:

  • Celebrated the opening of the 108-bed Novant Health Neurosciences Institute, offering the latest in comprehensive stroke, brain, spine and neurological care.
  • Added a new psychiatry residency training program, which launches this summer, and a planned rural track for the family medicine residency program.
  • Enhanced pediatric specialty care in the Wilmington region by adding doctors and other clinicians in partnership with UNC Health and by expanding appointments in Jacksonville and Supply.
  • Broke ground on the future Novant Health Scotts Hill Medical Center and a medical office building that will significantly expand access to care north of Wilmington.
  • Opened a new medical office building on the Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center campus, expanding medical services for that community.
  • Earned recognition by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Medicare Shared Savings Program for high quality performance – ranking first in North Carolina and third in the nation.
  • Unveiled the first Community Care Cruiser in the Wilmington area with support from the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation. The initiative will improve access to primary care, preventive care and screenings, and strengthen our focus on health equity.
  • Rolled out a new mobile mammography unit to provide equitable and easy access to breast cancer screenings to save lives.

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  • Finalized the transfer of Pender Medical Center to become fully part of our not-for-profit health system. Novant Health will invest $50 million in the hospital over the next 10 years. We have already improved access to care by increasing the range of surgical and procedural services available in Burgaw.
  • Completed construction of the first of two Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinics in Wilmington, clinics which are modeled after other successful locations in Charlotte. The Michael Jordan clinics will offer much-needed comprehensive primary care services to support our health equity efforts.
  • Advanced clinical research locally in partnership with UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine, while increasing the number of medical students at the Wilmington Campus. Since the start of last year, nearly 70 medical students have been based full-time in Wilmington for part of their clinical training. Why is this so important? Research shows that after physicians complete their residency that they often choose to practice nearby. For the southeastern North Carolina, this means bringing more doctors to a region that needs them. About 60 Novant Health physicians also hold a dual faculty appointment with UNC School of Medicine to support the important work of teaching the next generation.
  • Enhanced care for patients experiencing opioid overdose by having our community paramedics offer medication-assisted treatment to eligible patients as part of our 911 response. Last year in New Hanover County, EMS responded to more than 500 reported opioid overdoses.
  • Committed $10 million to train additional healthcare workers in southeastern North Carolina, with $5 million dedicated to scholarships for area students enrolled in healthcare programs.
  • Invested more than $12 million in boosting pay through bonuses for area team members in 2023. When we grow compensation for our team members, we also invest in their families and our communities.
  • Provided advanced care at our Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute, including offering a mechanical heart pump called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) for patients with heart failure. Earlier this month, New Hanover Regional Medical Center treated our first patients with new technology that uses pulsed electrical fields to treat atrial fibrillation.

I’m optimistic about what we will continue to accomplish together as we strengthen and expand our health care resources.

As a not-for-profit, we track our community investments, including financial assistance for patients in need and programs that benefit individuals and families locally. That number is $400 million for our coastal region alone – a massive investment in serving our neighbors.

Looking ahead, we will continue to prioritize safety, quality and increasing community access to care. By the end of this year, we look forward to celebrating the completion of our new outpatient facility at the Scotts Hill campus, including a new hub for the Novant Health Cancer Institute.

We are a thriving organization thanks to our expert physicians and passionate team members, who are grounded in a dedication to meeting the needs of our growing community. Thanks to them, our future is in good hands.