Community Talks Life Without Vidant Pungo Hospital

As Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal continues his walk to Washington, DC in an effort to reopen Vidant Pungo Hospital, the community has joined the fight as well.

Members of Healthy Communities United, a group of Hyde and Beaufort County residents created after the hospital closed 22 days ago, voiced their concerns to the media on Tuesday.

Residents say Vidant Pungo's closure adds another 30 to 40 miles to the nearest hospital, which they say can be life or death in an emergency situation.

Justin Gibbs told WITN about his mother Portia last week. She died six days after the hospital closed. Gibbs now wonders if his mother would be alive today if the hospital stayed open.

Others worry they too will be in a similar situation.

"Travesty has been taking place with the loss of the hospital being closed," says Mickey Lee Hammel, a member of Healthy Communities United. "It has devastated our county in a terrible way in terms of life and we are going to wonder how many more lives are going to be taken."

The group says they've collected 1,500 signatures, both online and on paper, to ask Vidant Health and Pantego Creek LLC to agree to transfer ownership of the hospital to the town of Belhaven.

The group also says they will take a bus to join Mayor O'Neal in Washington.

WITN reached out to Vidant Health for a comment on Tuesday, but did not hear back.
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As Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal continues to walk to Washington, DC in an effort to reopen Belhaven's hospital Vidant Pungo, residents of Hyde County are joining the fight as well.

Members of the newly formed Healthy Communities United group and people of the Hyde County community will meet in Hyde County Tuesday to speak about the effects of Vidant Pungo's recent closing in early July.

Families of the community will talk about the one death and close call of loved ones they say could have been prevented if the hospital were still open.

Stories include the death of Portia Gibbs of Hyde County who died of a heart attack while waiting for a helicopter to transport her to the nearest hospital.

Another story that will be talked about is the recent close call a family experienced Saturday night when they had to perform CPR on a family member while waiting for an ambulance.

The group and Hyde County residents plan to share their stories 12 p.m. Tuesday at the Swan Quarter Volunteer Fire Department on 25 Oyster Creek Road.

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