GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - The North Carolina NAACP says it won't let the former Vidant Pungo Hospital be torn down without a fight.
The group held a news conference in Greenville late Wednesday afternoon.
An attorney for the NAACP said they have evidence that shows Vidant wants to demolish the former Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven, which was shut down on July 1. Vidant cited financial reasons. The building and property are now owned by Pantego Creek LLC.
The president of the North Carolina NAACP, Rev. William Barber, said his group will even consider using civil disobedience if the demolition were to happen. Rev. Barber said protesters would stand in front of the demolition equipment, and the NAACP will begin teaching people how to do it in the coming days.
Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal --who had recently walked to Washington D.C. to protest the closure of Pungo Hospital-- claimed Vidant has been lying to the public.
"We will continue to escalate this issue until justice is served. We will continue to escalate until justice is served," said Mayor O'Neal.
NewsChannel 12 reached out to Vidant for comments, but have not heard back.
However, Vidant did issue an update Wednesday on its 24/7 clinic, located at Vidant Family Medicine practice at 216 Haslin Street in Belhaven. Since expanding its hours on July 1, the clinic has served nearly 400 patients and offers primary and urgent care, said Vidant.
Vidant said the 24/7 clinic is staffed by "outstanding physicians, nurses, and staff that were recently working in the emergency department and continue to provide excellent care to all patients." Vidant said the clinic also has expanded radiology equipment and services.
"We want Belhaven and the surrounding communities to know that Vidant is here to stay," said Roger Robertson, President of Vidant Community Hospitals. "We are open 24/7 for patients with medical needs, and our trained team of doctors, nurses and staff continue to provide the highest quality care to the patients they see."
Vidant said it is moving forward with plans to build a new 12,000-square-foot, $4.2 million multispecialty clinic in Belhaven to address longterm 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.