Dozens of doctors who are breaking away from Novant are leaving sooner than expected

Novant Health said a group of 40 doctors planning to exit the hospital system are leaving more than two months sooner than expected, and their last day will now be March 18.

What’s more, the doctors have decided not to practice in their current locations. On Tuesday, they said that they will open 13 new offices in Charlotte, Denver, NC, Huntersville and Mooresville.

The developments come after Novant confirmed in January that 41 doctors planned to leave Charlotte’s second-largest hospital system. The figure has since dropped to 40, after one doctor decided to remain with Novant rather than join Tennessee-based Holston Medical Group, Novant has said.

In a statement in January, Holston said that it and the doctors want to introduce new models of care and technologies to better serve patients and at lower costs.

Experts say that some doctors nationwide have become discontent with being employed by hospitals, which can impose patient quotas and leave physicians with limited control over business decisions.

In January, Novant said it had decided to transfer some of its physician offices and medical clinic lease agreements to the doctors. But in its update last week, Novant said the doctors said that they won’t be using those sites but, instead, will find new locations.

Initially, the doctors asked to retain all of the clinic locations where they currently practice, Novant said in the update.

But Danielle Cannon, a spokeswoman for Holston, said there were never any legal agreements for the doctors to lease the Novant spaces.

The six locations were:

106 Langtree Village Drive in Mooresville;

6909 Prosperity Church Road in Huntersville;

16525 Holly Crest Lane in Huntersville;

10816 Black Dog Lane, Suite 160, in Charlotte;

14330 Oakhill Park Lane in Huntersville; and

269 Gillman Road in Denver.

The final day

Novant also said in its update that it was notified last week about the doctors’ March 18 departure date.

That’s sooner than expected, Novant said. In their resignation letters, the doctors had requested an extension allowing them to remain with the system through May 31, Novant said.

Cannon said the doctors were not legally bound to remain with the system past March 18 under their employment agreements with Novant.

On Tuesday, Holston said contracts between Holston and major insurance companies are expected to be finalized soon.

David Cook, one of the Novant doctors spearheading the split, said in a statement that nearly 5,000 patients so far have completed online forms indicating their desire to follow the doctors to Holston.

Novant, based in Winston-Salem, has said it has about 900 doctors in the Charlotte area.

Holston Medical Group was founded in 1977, according to its website, which says it is one of the largest multispecialty, physician-owned groups in the Southeast. Holston has offices throughout northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, according to its website.

It marks the second time in less than a year that a large group of doctors in the Charlotte region announced plans to split from a hospital system.

In April, about 92 doctors with Mecklenburg Medical Group sued to get out of non-compete contracts with Atrium Health and form an independent practice, Tryon Medical Partners.

Atrium, Charlotte’s largest health care system, granted the doctors’ request by ending their employment agreements.

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Deon Roberts has covered Charlotte’s financial services industry for The Charlotte Observer since 2013. His beat includes Bank of America and Wells Fargo. He attended Loyola University in New Orleans and is a native of Lafitte, La.