NEW INFO: Belhaven Mayor To Address Vidant Pungo Plan

The mayor of a town that is just a few weeks away from losing its hospital is set to address the issue with Beaufort County commissioners Monday night.

The mayor of Belhaven, Adam O'Neal, is on the agenda to speak at the Beaufort County Commissioners meeting.

Vidant Health said it plans closing Vidant Pungo Hospital on April 1st, with plans to build a 24/7 multi-specialty care clinic at in the coming months.

Mayor O'Neal has been very outspoken against the hospital shutdown and has said publicly he doubts Vidant will build the new clinic.

The commissioners' meeting starts at 5 p.m.

WITN will keep you posted on what happens at the Monday meeting.


People are speaking out after learning Tuesday night they are one step closer to losing their hospital.

Residents of Beaufort and Hyde Counties are now worried that their lives are in danger without the hospital in Belhaven.

Tuesday night in a closed meeting, Pantego Creek LLC, the group formed to ensure that Vidant complies with its agreement signed with Pungo District Hospital, voted against legal action against Vidant Health.

Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal showed us a $30,000 business plan that he says proves the hospital is not ready to die. O'Neal says, "Our hospital can break even. We've got a business plan that shows it's going to break even. Vidant's chairman saw it will break even last night and they don't care. They're going to close our hospital."

According to the plan, the hospital, which is losing millions of dollars, needs three million dollars to return to normal operating conditions.

O'Neal contends Vidant is going against the 41 page agreement they signed to keep the hospital open, which reads in part, "The parties will serve to maintain the identity and viability of Pungo District Hospital in Pungo's service area."

His view comes even after the group overseeing that agreement, decided not to sue to keep the hospital open.

O'Neal also says the complaint filed by the NAACP in January will help prove Vidant's actions are illegal. He says, "We still have the Title 6 complaint that was filed with the NAACP, the civil rights department in Atlanta. An investigator has been assigned that case and we'll see what comes with that."

Mayor O'Neal says it's a waiting game until investigators from the NAACP can come to the area. That timeline is uncertain.

Vidant purchased Pungo Hospital in 2011 and says it will close April 1st.

The hospital system says it will offer 24-seven care at an interim site while a new clinic is being built.

It could take between 12 and 18 months from groundbreaking to build a new one.

Opponents to a local hospital closing down have decided not to take legal action against the company making the call.

On Tuesday, Vidant Health said they plan to close the Pungo Hospital in Belhaven on April 1st.

Pantego Creek L.L.C., the group formed to ensure that Vidant complies with their agreement signed with Pungo District Hospital, met Tuesday night at the Belhaven Civic Center.

Close to 100 people showed up to hear the decision, but the group opted for a closed-door meeting.

There were no exceptions to the closed-door status, as North Carolina’s NAACP President was denied access.

Reverend Dr. William Barber said, “I’ve not seen anything like this in recent memory. The legislature in Raleigh is open. I’m on a national board and we do our business openly.”

Vidant said they plan to close the hospital April 1st. They said they purchased nearly 20 acres in Belhaven for a new 24/7 clinic, but that the town hasn’t cooperated with the zoning information.

Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal said, “Serve to maintain the identity and viability of Pungo District Hospital. Irregardless of ability to pay. That’s their contract that they’re not living up to.”

Mayor O’Neal said the town offered Vidant two pieces of property on Main Street for free, but they refused.

Vidant says they expect the construction of the clinic to take 12-18 months.

O’Neal doesn’t feel they have any intentions of building a clinic, based on the piece of property they purchased.

The NAACP has already filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to block the hospital from closing.
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Vidant Health says it plans to close Vidant Pungo hospital on April 1st, even though a new multi-specialty care clinic to replace the hospital hasn’t even begun construction.

Vidant announced last year it would close the hospital in Belhaven, over objections of many people in the community.

The hospital system said today that it would offer 24/7 care at an interim site while the new clinic is being built. That could take between 12-18 months from groundbreaking.

Opponents to the hospital closing are meeting tonight to negotiate and vote to take legal action against Vidant. Already the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to block the hospital closing.

Vidant says it purchased nearly 20 acres in Belhaven late last year for the new clinic, but says the town has been “unresponsive to our repeated requests for information and cooperation regarding the zoning of the property.”

Vidant purchased the hospital, which serves portions of Beaufort and Hyde counties, in 2011.