NAACP Rallies To Keep Pungo Vidant Hospital Open

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The NAACP held a rally Wednesday in Belhaven in Beaufort County regarding the closure of the Vidant Pungo Hospital and replacing it with a 24-hour clinic.

Vidant has sighted several reasons for the closure including the building's age and a lack of revenue generated at the location, but the main focus of North Carolina NAACP President Reverend William Barber is the denial of medicaid expansion by the general assembly.

He says it's putting a strain on hospitals and would lead to Belhaven being without emergency room services. He says that's dangerous because if the clinic doesn't have an emergency room, it isn't required by law to provide care to patients in emergency situations who don't have the money to pay for it.

"The clinic will not be under that law unless there's an emergency room there, and that means people who need emergency care if they're poor and can't afford it would have to go miles. It means 25,000 people will be without something they've had for more than 60 years," said Barber.

Barber says the NAACP plans to meet with Vidant and the general assembly, and depending on how those meetings go, they may file a class action lawsuit.