Vidant offers $1 million to keep Belhaven Hospital open - WNCN: News, Weather

Vidant offers $1 million to keep Belhaven Hospital open

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Cooperation and expanding Medicaid---two issues now in the forefront. A week ago, Vidant and the NAACP were at odds and the hospital was about to close. But on Thursday, they say they're working together.

"Saying this won't work is not even real." Mayor Adam O’Neal said. The community needed $3 million to keep the hospital open and now they've met that goal.

In the deal Vidant is offering $1 million to support the hospital after the transfer is complete. They will also help the community in their search for a new management company and will pay to keep the hospital and its family clinics open for up to 90 days.
Vidant also agreed not to build their proposed walk in clinic. "Opening a clinic like that would further jeopardize the hospital." Dr. David Herman said

Back in September, Vidant pointed at the legislature's inability to expand Medicaid as one of the reasons the hospital would close. On Thursday, leaders called upon lawmakers to do something about it.

“Expansion of Medicaid would be very great for everybody in Eastern North Carolina.” Herman said. 

NAACP President Dr. William Barber is fighting for the expansion too. “We can do it here in North Carolina. Medicaid expansion should not be a partisan issue; it should be a moral issue.

But with the legislature out and the clock still ticking, leaders say they're now working to finding a company to manage the hospital.

“If all of us work together it is a 100% chance we will have this hospital and it will always be in this community.” O’Neal said. 

If the community doesn't succeed, Vidant says they will extend the operating hours of the existing primary care practice in Belhaven to a 24/7 center that will provide urgent care services.
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It's been controversial, it's gotten emotional, and it's rallied a community together.
Vidant Pungo Hospital is expected to officially become a community hospital.

In September 2013, Vidant said they were closing the doors on Pungo Hospital causing an uproar from the community.
In February, Pantego Creek, LLC met to discuss whether or not to sue Vidant. And after a heated debate, the LLC decided not to sue Vidant.

But in March, the Beaufort County commissioners voted in emergency session to lend $2 million to keep the hospital open.
The U.S. Department of Justice offered to mediate the dispute, reaching an agreement last week.

More than six months later, the NAACP and Vidant are meeting to discuss the details of the agreement.

The conclusion of Thursday’s meeting means that both parties will officially work together to turn Vidant Pungo back into a community hospital.

Last week, they released a joint statement announcing a 90-day extension to the hospital's agreement.
It buys time for Belhaven and the counties the hospital serves to set up a representative community based board.
In addition to an established infrastructure, the group needs $3 million.
Beaufort County commissioners already promised $2 million. It’s a waiting game to see if Belhaven and Hyde County are up for the balance.
It may or may not be announced at the meeting Thursday.
We'll have a full wrap up on 9 On Your Side at 11.

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There are new details in the fight to save Vidant-Pungo Hospital in Belhaven.
The NAACP and Vidant Health announced an agreement to keep the hospital open.

Vidant will operate the hospital and its emergency facilities through July 1st giving time to establish a community-based board to run it.

9 On Your Side was the first to report the agreement and its terms.     
Cries for help to save the Vidant-Pungo hospital were answered.

On Wednesday the NAACP and Vidant Health reached an agreement and Thursday afternoon, in a joint statement, they announced the terms.

"I definitely think that the prayers that have been coming from everywhere have helped us,” said Adam O'Neal, Belhaven mayor. “People have stayed focus on our issue but we still have a lot of hoops to jump through.”

Over the next three months, Vidant Health will work with the community to help them establish a representative community-based board. The board is expected to take full operating control of the hospital by the end of the extension, July 1st.

Those who live in the community are reacting to the news. They say the hospitals presence means better access to healthcare and faster response times.

"We had to go to Beaufort and the wait times is almost double or triple what you would have here," one resident said.

"The promise of 4.2 million dollar primary care clinic was not a fair trade off for a very comprehensive community rural hospital," said Dr. Charles Boyette.

Boyette, who once served as medical director, was unsatisfied with Vidant’s management of the hospital.

"When they did take over it went from bad to worse," he said.

Boyette says this new approach is very positive and must work.

"We must make sure this works, because if we do not, we'll have a county and a half with mediocre healthcare," he added.

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Mediation wrapped up Wednesday between Vidant Health and the NAACP over a possible solution to keep Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven open.

The hospital is set to close next week on April 1st.

9 On Your Side’s Andrew Ruiz tells that mediation wrapped up and both sides have reached a mutual agreement. The agreement is crucial and they’re not releasing any details of the agreement just yet.

They say they’ll release a joint statement Thursday morning.

We’ll have more details as they become available.

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No resolution.
Vidant Health and the NACCP met Friday for the second day of mediation. They're trying to settle their dispute over the Belhaven community hospital.
It is set to close on April 1st.

Both parties tell 9 On Your Side that they hoped for a resolution today, but it didn't happen.

Both parties met at Ross Hall on ECU's campus. It's neutral territory for both.

Stakeholders arrived one by one to resolve what seems to be an incessant fight to save the Belhaven hospital.
For about five hours they met behind closed doors to share their concerns. A mediator with the Department of Justice conducted the session.
But at the end of the day, there was no resolution.
Both Vidant and the NAACP speaking only to 9 say they'll be back next week.

"We met today for conversation. We had a good conversation and we'll have conversations in the future," said Dr. David Herman, Vidant Health CEO.

"We've had some very serious, very strong conversation and very open conversation,” said Rev. Dr. William Barber, NC NAACP President. “We are still quite hopeful about these conversations and where they may lead, and at this time to make our commitment to mediation, we cannot discuss those matters."

We're told that everything else, including funding negotiations, is on hold.
All efforts now are focused on mediation.

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