I am walking to Washington from our Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven to highlight four issues:
• We need a law that stops organizations like Vidant Health from closing critical access hospitals without at least a one-year notice to allow local communities a chance to save their emergency room services.
• I will push for Medicaid expansion. Our state’s refusal to accept expansion is taking $2 billion a year out of our state’s health care system.
• Americans need to realize the rural health care struggles across our country. In the last year, more rural hospitals have closed than in the previous 15 years. Every hospital closure means deaths!
• Vidant Health’s abuse of our town and area needs exposure.
Vidant Health represented itself as our town’s savior and proceeded to rip our area’s heart out. It has had no regard for our community or lives. The mediation agreement Vidant signed is the most recent example of its total disregard for written agreements.
Not-for-profit companies that make $100 million a year shouldn’t be able to close a hospital for a new, immoral business plan. Not-for-profit companies that have $550 million in reserves shouldn’t be able to rip out a community’s critical access hospital and keep its not-for-profit designation.
I hope Belhaven will help the people of our country become more important than greedy executives’ million-dollar bonuses.
Adam O’Neal, Mayor, Belhaven