Judge Gets Promise From Vidant Health Not To Demolish Hospital

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A state judge got lawyers from Vidant Health and Pantego Creek, LLC to promise they would not demolish a closed hospital, this as a temporary restraining order ran out on Monday.

At a hearing in Plymouth, Superior Judge Milton Fitch got the promise as Vidant is trying to move the dispute into federal court.

We're told that could take up to a month. In the meantime, the lawyers also agreed not to remove any equipment from the closed hospital until the jurisdiction issue is resolved.

Back on August 14th, Belhaven town officials and the NAACP asked Judge Fitch to keep Vidant from demolishing or removing any more equipment from the now closed hospital.

The hospital closed on July 1st after a failed attempt by town leaders to take over the hospital and keep it open.


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The fight over reopening Vidant Pungo continues as a hearing regarding the lawsuit the town of Belhaven and the NAACP filed last week takes place.

The hearing will be Monday in Plymouth where a judge will decide whether or not to grant a temporary restraining order to Belhaven and the NAACP on Vidant Pungo Hospital.

Last week, the town and civil rights group filed the request for a temporary restraining order against Vidant Health.

That order would keep Vidant Health from demolishing or removing any more equipment from the now closed hospital.

The Belhaven hospital closed back in July.



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Vidant Health wants a lawsuit filed last week by Belhaven and the NAACP moved to federal court.

This morning the Vidant board met behind closed doors to discuss with their lawyers the lawsuit against them.

The town and the NAACP filed a request for a temporary restraining order, which would keep Vidant from demolishing the closed hospital, or removing any more equipment. That lawsuit was filed in Beaufort County, and a judge has set an August 25th hearing.

Vidant says it "vigorously denies all of the allegations in the complaint" and says it looks forward to present the facts.

Belhaven and a citizens group wanted to take over the hospital from Vidant Health, but that plan was scuttled when they failed to get an extension. Vidant closed the hospital on July 1st, saying it was losing too much money.

Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal says he is not surprised by anything Vidant does. O'Neal says he doesn't care which court hears their case, "I know the truth will be heard," said O'Neal. "We don't have any fear of any court that hears our issue, we are seeking justice."



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The morning after Belhaven town leaders voted to condemn the closed Vidant Pungo Hospital, Vidant Health's board took no public action.

The health system board met in a specially called meeting to discuss a lawsuit filed by the town and the NAACP last week which sought a temporary retraining order to prevent the hospital from being demolished.

After meeting for 45 minutes in a closed session with lawyers, the Vidant board emerged and took no public votes.

During the meeting, the Save The Hospital group presented Vidant Health Chairman Arthur Keeney, III a petition with 5,000 signatures. Members asked Keeney if they had made a decision on Vidant Pungo, and he responded "We have the ball rolling."

After the meeting, Vidant Health officials refused to speak with WITN.

Belhaven and a citizens group wanted to take over the hospital from Vidant Health, but that plan was scuttled when they failed to get an extension. Vidant closed the hospital on July 1st, saying it was losing too much money.

Monday night, Belhaven voted to start eminent domain proceedings against the hospital property. Under state law, towns and cities can condemn property for public use, such as for roads, sidewalks, and hospitals.

Belhaven moved up its meeting to Monday night, when it learned Vidant would meet Tuesday morning.


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There's a new legal maneuver in the fight over the closed Vidant Pungo Hospital.

Belhaven called for an emergency meeting Monday night so its town board could discuss taking control of the hospital by eminent domain. Officials voted to move forward with the eminent domain proceedings.

"Eminent domain is what governments do to accomplish public purposes when the owners of property refuse to sell," says Town Attorney John Tate.

Government bodies can condemn property for public use, such as for roads, sidewalks, and hospitals.

The town and a citizens group wanted to take over the hospital from Vidant Health, but that plan was scuttled when they tried to get an extension. Vidant closed the hospital on July 1st.

Last week, the town got a Superior Court judge to keep Vidant from demolishing the building, and to stop removing equipment from the building.

Vidant Health will hold a meeting Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. to discuss that lawsuit.

"We had a meeting scheduled tomorrow morning for 11:00 then we found that Vidant was calling a special meeting at 8," says Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal. "They've done this before, trying to play games with us."

Despite somewhat of a back and forth, O'Neal says he thinks the town is picking up steam in their efforts. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is currently investigating.


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