Winston-Salem & Chapel Hill ― A medical center on North Carolina’s coast could soon be expanding its medical school education.

Novant Health, UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine have signed a letter of intent to enhance medical education and clinical services at New Hanover Regional Medical Center (“NHRMC”) based in Wilmington.

This includes enhancing the long-standing pediatric program and other service lines.

However, there’s a caveat: the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners must choose to affiliate or form a joint venture with Novant Health.

The Novant Health network consists of more than 1,600 physicians and over 29,000 employees that provide care at nearly 700 locations, including 15 hospitals and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics

“Maintaining and expanding medical education at NHRMC will allow Novant Health to best serve the Wilmington community while continuing to build the pipeline of physician talent for North Carolina,” said Carl S. Armato, president and CEO for Novant Health, in a statement.

”We are pleased to form a partnership with Novant Health that would enhance our educational presence and allow us to train the generation of physicians and promote economic development for the entire Wilmington region,” added Wesley Burks, M.D. , CEO of UNC Health and Dean of UNC School of Medicine.

“Together, we will combine the best of teaching, research and clinical care to optimally serve the residents of southeastern North Carolina for decades to come.”

More details will be announced as the partnership is finalized.