NAACP Files Lawsuit Against Vidant Health

After months of discussion, there's a federal lawsuit to stop Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven from closing.

Back in September, Vidant Medical Center said it would close the facility, replacing it with a new multi-specialty care clinic.

It's a decision the town says is wrong.

Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal says, "They come in with legal abilities that we don't have without spending a lot of money. They also have a lot of experience dealing with folks that are sometimes being misleading, and that's what we're dealing with."

On Tuesday, the NAACP faxed a complaint to the U.S. Attorney General fighting the decision. The NAACP filed a title six complaint, alleging discrimination against Vidant Medical Center for threatening to close Vidant Pungo Hospital in Beaufort.

NAACP President Dr. William Barber says, "The corporation is making a decision that they don't have to make. We filed this type six because we believe the actions are discriminatory, that it will have a reverse devastating, discriminatory impact on poor people."

According to Dr. Barber, more than 20 percent of Beaufort and Hyde County residents are low income and will suffer if their hospital is closed.

In a statement to WITN, Vidant Medical Center said, "Vidant Health continues to move forward with our plans to build a multispecialty clinic in Belhaven. In the meantime, we are working with local and state officials to transition healthcare services in Beaufort and Hyde counties to our Vidant Medical Group physician practices."