Vidant Pungo Hospital to close in April

Non-profit group decides not to take action against local hospital

BELHAVEN, BEAUFORT COUNTY - A non-profit group decides not to take action against Vidant in a meeting held Tuesday night.

According to Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal, he was told that Vidant plans to close the Vidant Pungo Hospital on April 1. An interim office would be established.

A large crowd showed up to attend the meeting, including North Carolina NAACP president, William Barber. However, the group was promptly told it was a closed door meeting.

O'Neal was the only person allowed inside the meeting. He said Pantego Creek LLC, a non-profit group, met at the Belhaven Civic Center to discuss the closure and Vidant's agreement to serve the community.

Ultimately, the group decided not to take any legal action against Vidant.

"I think it's a horrible decision. We have some uninformed people that made a decision that could handicap our area for years to come. One of the main objections was the need to raise money for the hospital. But it seems like the membership of the non-profit didn't believe it would be possible to raise that money. They're hoping the federal government will come in and see that the hospital can break even and make money and see that Vidant is trying to limit health care in NC," O'Neal said.

On Sept. 4, the Board of Directors of Vidant Pungo Hospital announced they voted unanimously to shut down the facility.

The NAACP has since filed its own lawsuit in hopes of stopping the closure of the hospital.

The building is more than 60 years old and had a nearly $1.8 million deficit last year, Vidant Health stated. In addition, the hospital is located in a flood-prone area.

The board decided to build a new 24/7 Vidant multi-specialty clinic in or near Belhaven. The new facility is projected to cost $4.3 million and is expected to be completed within 18 months, according to Vidant Health.

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