Last week, Dome attended a meeting of a legislative committee that was looking at whether UNC Health Care should own Rex Hospital – a partnership opposed by WakeMed, the private nonprofit that made a hostile takeover offer for Rex.
One highlight was when Democrat Rep. Michael Wray told UNC Health Care CEO Bill Roper that they get The N&O in Northampton County and he reads it "pretty regular." He went on to question Roper about a news story in which Roper said the alternative to taking over WakeMed would be "grinding them into the dirt."
In his response to Wray, Roper denied having said that and went on to say, "Let’s go subpoena the writer who wrote that article." (See the video above.)
Dome takes exception to suggestions that colleagues be hauled into court so we did some checking. Karen McCall, a spokeswoman for UNC Health Care, explained Roper’s response to Wray by saying Roper was denying he ever threatened WakeMed CEO Bill Atkinson.
McCall said he did not mean to imply that The N&O had erred. The story in question, which was the third in a series on the battle between WakeMed and Rex, described an exchange between Roper and Atkinson at a meeting in April 2011.
Here’s how Roper explained the exchange in an interview with reporter Mandy Locke last fall: After suggesting to Atkinson that UNC and WakeMed have so much in common that they should merge one day, Roper said, "As a positive thing, it can be something that is the crowning achievement of your career, maybe my career. This is much bigger than anything personal…to put it negatively, I don’t want to spend the next five years of my career trying to grind WakeMed into the dirt. That gives me no joy."
McCall said Roper will send a letter to the legislator clarifying his response during Thursday’s committee meeting.