Urologists Flee Mission Health

— Specialists mark the latest departures following HCA takeover

A photo of Mission Health hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.

Urologists are the latest physicians to leave Western North Carolina's Mission Health following its $1.5 billion takeover by HCA Healthcare in 2019, according to new reporting.

One urologist at Mission Urology left in October of last year, one was terminated in January, and one has plans to leave by early July, according to , which cited documents and emails it had obtained.

Urologists from Asheville Urological Associates have also decided to relinquish their practice privileges at Mission, Jeremy Cloninger, the group's practice administrator, told the outlet. The group began doing so in 2022.

Brian Cohen, MD, one of the urologists previously employed by Mission, told ľֱ that he was terminated without cause.

Prior to his departure, Cohen said he told administration that, among other things, more consistency was needed for urologists to better do their job -- such as less turnover in support staff.

"It's a nationwide issue," Cohen said with regard to corporate ownership in healthcare. "True private practice," he said, has been "next to impossible" for most physicians.

At Mission, urology services have ranged from emergency care to elective procedures to oncology care, said Cohen, who is now performing locum tenens work in Michigan. He said he worries that the local population Mission serves may have to travel outside the area for certain specialized services.

Overall, there is a "significant shortage of urological clinical staff, nationwide," he noted.

Last fall, ľֱ reported that dozens of physicians from legacy Mission facilities had raised concerns about quality of care and corporate culture in a letter to administrators.

"Many of the for-profit-driven changes that HCA has wrought, despite advocacy and protests from multiple sectors, have gutted the heart and soul of our community healthcare system," the letter stated. "The relationships and deep personal investment that historically mattered to staff across the board have been stifled. Emblematic of this is the loss of over 200 physicians and countless healthcare staff who have left Mission and/or the medical community since the sale."

ľֱ previously reported on physician departures in the wake of the deal.

Regarding the departing urologists, Nancy Lindell, director of public and media relations for HCA Healthcare's North Carolina Division/Mission Health, provided the following statement: "As with any job, there are various reasons why people leave. Out of respect for our current and former employees, we do not discuss personnel matters publicly. Mission Hospital has urologists on its medical staff and, with its affiliates, continues to recruit for any open positions. In Asheville, we are fortunate to have employed and community-based urologists who collaborate in care for patients."

In an email, Cloninger, of Asheville Urological Associates, noted that, "We prefer not to comment any further regarding the individual privileges for our physicians with HCA/Mission."

  • author['full_name']

    Jennifer Henderson joined ľֱ as an enterprise and investigative writer in Jan. 2021. She has covered the healthcare industry in NYC, life sciences and the business of law, among other areas.