Ever Heard Of A Medical Desert? I Hadn't. Now That I Know What It Is, I Don't Want To Live In One.

Laura Willard Curated by

I'd never heard the term "medical desert" before watching this video. For being a country that spends so much money on health care, it's kinda crazy to think that in some places in the United States, there's literally no health care to be had.

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Axon [SP], Axon, Axon.

Adam, Adam. Move your foot or I'll break it. Move it.

Well, go ahead and break it then. Axon.

He is busy.

Axon, will you come here for a second when you get done?

Would you please move.

Three, two one. A rough start to tonight's meeting as dozens of people, including the Mayor of Belhaven, the NAACPs Reverend William Barber, and were closed out of Pantego Creek, LLC's meeting regarding Vidant Pungo Hospital. A meeting that was set to decide if Vidant violated its agreement with Pantego Creek, therefore, leading to a lawsuit.

They don’t want people to see what they are doing in there.

What the hell! I thought it was a public meeting.

I mean, it’s always been open. They’ve always had guest and Ellen Allen standing at the door doing her thing.

The business that they will be doing will impact the public, but the public will not be allowed to see them do their business. They’ve not asked to speak. The public has simply asked to be present.

He can't come in.

Why is that?

Because it's a membership meeting only. This is just for the membership of the Pantego Creek, LLC. We will vote tonight. That’s why it needs to be a controlled, restrained meeting.

The explanation that I received was, in essence, that this needed to be a controlled meeting, as though the public is out of control. They are not out of control. They are bearing much concerned about who will control their future and who will control their health care. They have a serious interest. This is not about mere dollars and cents. It's about life and death.

I was disappointed in the administrators that had made this decision. I was disappointed that they would leave this area of the county as well as Hyde County without emergency services. If we get right down to it, people will probably die if the hospital closes.

I cannot imagine our town and our people being very well taken care of medically if we do not have a facility that can do the essentials to diagnose and manage these patients. Modification of health care is appropriate, but not eradication of health care.

Here is Belhaven. The existing hospital is right here on the western shore of Wynne's Gut. Here is the City of Washington, 30 miles by roads from Belhaven to the main part of Hyde County, some 50 miles. That represents a long time because these roads are not good.

Someone who will have a serious injury in Hyde County, make it to Belhaven and then transfer to the Belhaven Ambulance to complete the journey to the Washington Hospital. The problem is, if you have a serious wound and you're bleeding, then if you can't stop in Belhaven and you have to go all the way, you have added huge increment of time. The ones who had serious injuries would die before they were tended to.

When you take patient care out of the scenario, you take people out of the scenario it becomes a business decision.

It makes me sick to even think about what Vidant is trying to do to us and I feel like we're being mistreated. I'm 77 years old. It makes me feel bad when I start to even think about what they are doing.

Vidant thinks that they can come into this little town in northeast North Carolina's little coastal community and take our health care and no one say anything. Well, that’s not the way it’s going to be.

If they were in good faith trying to do the best thing, they would be sharing their numbers with us without reservation because there’ll be nothing to hide. It would be like if you had a grocery store in Washington and one in Belhaven and you knew that the people in Belhaven, if there's no grocery store, they had to go to Washington. Well, if you could get rid of the expense of having a grocery store in Belhaven and send all the customers to Washington, you'd make more money.

The reasons they are not sharing our numbers is because they are mixing in cost that are not direct cost to our facility and they are taking every worst case scenario possible to eliminate our hospital.

Wake Forest Baptist out in Winston-Salem was trying to do this and there was a lawsuit over it and the confidential business report actually spelled out. It said, "We want to move the hospital because the population where the hospital is is poor, largely African American, and uninsured. And we want to move it closer to Winston-Salem where people have insurance and we want to move it to this golf community."

And we thought this trend would stop with Medicaid expansion and, as you know, at least for this year, the general assembly said we are not going to take Medicaid expansion. So we are going to still see this problem of hospitals wanting to relocate to areas where people are better insured.

They are after the dollar. That dollar is what they are after. It’s not the people's lives. They really need to stop and think because if they close this hospital, death is on their hands. It's by all these children around here. This hospital has got to stay here.

All right. Here we go.

You're not coming in. you're not coming in. Golly.

You said it right.

John, what's the deal?

Mary, Maury apparently has made a deal with these people to …

We do want the mayor of the town …

There may be small errors in this transcript.
About:

"Battle for Belhaven" was created by Story of America. You can read more about this situation to get the background and learn about the potential consequences of Belhaven losing its only hospital.

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