Hyde County EMS says Belhaven mayor wrong about death claim - WNCN: News, Weather

Hyde County EMS says Belhaven mayor wrong about death claim

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BELHAVEN, N.C. -

Mayor Adam O'Neal tells 9 On Your Side there's been one death that he says could have been prevented if Vidant Pungo was still open.

The hospital closed last Tuesday after a long back-and-forth battle between Belhaven and Vidant Health.

O'Neal says a woman from Hyde County was in an ambulance after a heart attack. In Swan Quarter, emergency responders tried to stabilize her while waiting for a helicopter to take her to Norfolk or the Outer Banks.

That's some of a few options that people in Hyde County have. They used to go to Vidant Pungo in Beaufort County or to Dare County. Hyde does not have its own hospital.

"An emergency room has more capabilities, more equipment, more diagnostics equipment, more medicine" said O'Neal. "They have more more experienced physicians that are there and trying to compare a paramedic to an emergency room is not compatible."

O'Neal says that after an hour she died. He says its because there was no Belhaven hospital to take her to.  

Justin Gibbs with Hyde County Emergency management says because of the size of the heart attack, even if there was a hospital in Belhaven he believes her injuries were still fatal. Gibbs says that they were waiting for a helicopter to Greenville. Vidant Medical Center is better equipped to handle that kind of heart attack.

"They shouldn't have used this particular case for any political motive as far as the hospital being open" said Gibbs. "I would say that myself and my staff would love it if Pungo was still there. It would help us out, but with this particular case, it would not have."

Mayor O'Neal said his statement came after talking to a doctor who was on the phone with the patient's family member.

O'Neal said the fight to save Vidant Pungo Hospital is not over, and on Monday he plans to walk from Belhaven to Washington, D.C. to share the community's story about battling to get back their hospital.

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