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Vidant Pungo Hospital – Belhaven, North Carolina

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Vidant-PungoIn what owners state is a reaction to Governor Pat McCrory’s decision not to expand Medicaid under health care reform, 49-bed Vidant Pungo Hospital is slated to close in the small coastal town (town?) of Belhaven.

Vidant Health, a nonprofit ten-hospital network who bought Vidant Pungo in 20XX in an attempt to keep the aging facility open to the public, cites McCrory’s decision as the primary reason for the closing, along with the fact that the 60-year old hospital is outdated and located directly on the sound, which prompts expensive evacuations during heavy storms.

North Carolina is one of 26 states whose republican governors and state legislators have rejected Medicare expansion under President Obama’s health care reform bill. In doing so, facilities within these states are not eligible to receive billions of dollars in federal funding and increase the number of uninsured poor residents in their communities. The health care reform bill aims to pay for Medicaid expansion in part by reducing funding for those hospitals that treat the poor and uninsured.

Located in a section of Eastern North Carolina with an abundance of poor and uninsured residents, Vidant Pungo’s uncompensated care expenditure was $159 million in 2012. As a result of treating so many uninsured patients, it loses approximately $1 million per year.

In response to the news of the closing, Belhaven officials accuse Vidant of caring only about their bottom line, and not the community members who will be affected by their decision. They fear the shut down will dramatically reduce emergency care, and are lobbying for Vidant to include a full-service emergency room in the 24 hour clinic Vidant plans to open in the wake of the hospital’s closing. This clinic is planned to be a multispecialty facility that will treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. It will also include a helipad to aid in transporting patients to better equipped nearby facilities.

IN 20XX, Belhaven mayor Adam O’Neal (R) walked to Washington, DC to protest the effects of health care reform on rural hospitals.

Photography credit: www.wnct.com

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Posted: October 24, 2014

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Category: All, Lost Hospitals, North Carolina

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