Dozens storm out after commissioners deny loan for Pungo Hospital

Dozens storm out after commissioners deny loan for Pungo Hospital (Image 1)

Beaufort County commissioners denied a $643,000 loan request to the town of Belhaven as it attempts to reopen Pungo Hospital.

Mayor Adam O’Neal requested the loan because he wanted to assert eminent domain and take away the hospital property from Pantego Creek LLC, which currently owns the property.

“We have 4 people, 4 managers basically that are holding our hospital hostage and it’s going to force us to do eminent domain,” Mayor O’Neal said, referring to Pantego Creek, LLC.

For more than a year, the town of Belhaven has fought with Vidant Health and Pantego Creek LLC to reopen Pungo Hospital after it was shut down back in July 2014.

Commissioner Hood Richardson motioned to grant the loan to Belhaven.

However, no commissioner seconded his motion so it failed.

Commissioner Frankie Waters cited Vidant Health opening a 24-hour clinic as part of his reason for not agreeing to the loan.

“The demographics and business model is not there in that community to have a 24/7 hour clinic and an emergency room with beds,” Commissioner Frankie Waters said. “It’s just not there.”

Dozens of people stormed out of the meeting after the commissioners’ decision.

“How can you sleep knowing that you refuse to help the citizens of Belhaven which is a part of Beaufort County?” Roydia Spencer said.

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Beaufort County commissioners are expected to discuss several topics Monday evening, including the potential reopening of Belhaven’s Pungo Hospital, which closed last summer.

They’re meeting at Washington High School.

Monday night, we’re expecting an update from Mayor Adam O’Neal on plans to reopen Belhaven’s Pungo Hospital.

Hospital leadership is submitting a grant to reuse the Pungo Hospital building, which had been shut down since last July. If approved, county taxpayers would have to pay more than $22,000 to help re-open the hospital.

That discussion’s scheduled to take place around 7 o’clock.

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