BELHAVEN, BEAUFORT COUNTY - The mayor of Belhaven says a temporary restraining order has been issued to protect the former Vidant Pungo Hospital.
Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal told NewsChannel 12 a judge in Wilson County granted a 10-day restraining order Thursday against Vidant Health and Pantego Creek, LLC. The decision means that the former Vidant Pungo Hospital --which was shut down on July 1-- cannot be demolished. In addition, no equipment can be taken from the former hospital.
Mayor O'Neal said the Town of Belhaven and the NAACP will go back to court in Plymouth on Aug. 25 to try and get a more permanent restraining order.
Vidant cited financial reasons for shutting down Vidant Pungo Hospital on July 1. The building and property are now owned by Pantego Creek LLC.
Vidant Health issued a statement Thursday night in response to the judge's ruling saying:
""Vidant Health remains committed to the Belhaven community. Vidant Health's agreement with the town was that they would have assumed operational control of the hospital before now. Unfortunately they did not complete the necessary steps and are still unable to move forward with operating the hospital. Vidant Health met all of our commitments and has put forth the only viable long-term solution for health care in the community to date. Vidant Health denies all of the allegations in the complaint, but we will abide by the judge's order. In the mean time, Vidant's 24/7 care clinic continues to provide around the clock care for Belhaven and the surrounding communities."
Even though Vidant Pungo Hospital is no longer operational, Vidant is still operating a 24/7 clinic in the town, located at Vidant Family Medicine at 216 Haslin St. Since expanding its hours on July 1, the clinic has served nearly 400 patients and offers primary and urgent care, said Vidant.
Vidant said it is moving forward with plans to build a new 12,000-square-foot, $4.2 million multi-specialty clinic in Belhaven to address long-term health care needs.
The property, purchased in late 2013 by Vidant, is located at 601 Old County Road, between the Post Office and the Food Lion shopping center, south of Highway 264.
Vidant said it has filed for the building permit with the Town of Belhaven. Once approved, Vidant said it will immediately begin construction and plans to open the facility within 12 to 18 months.