Archived Story

Primum non nocere

Published 5:22pm Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sometimes it seems like we just can’t catch a break. Beaufort County is riding high on the list of North Carolina counties with high unemployment. And just as the state’s Secretary of Commerce rolls into town to announce the creation of 159 new manufacturing jobs with iDx Impressions, Vidant lets loose with the shocking news that Vidant Pungo Hospital will be closing.

Net gain, a few jobs — eventually. Some might not take that as such bad news, but for others, especially those who live in Belhaven and work at the hospital there, Vidant’s announcement is devastating.

Sure, there will be jobs created with the new 24/7 clinic, but just a fraction of those that exist now. And it’s understandable the parent company wants to whittle down expenses and beef up the bottom line.

But there’s another bottom line here that needs to be taken into account. Bottom line is that Belhaven has suffered economically since the fishing and crabbing industry has taken a dive in the past decade. Bottom line is that nothing has replaced the lost prosperity. Bottom line is that hundreds of people will be affected by the closure of the hospital — not just those who work there, but spouses, children, entire families.

One of the principal ideas of medical ethics is found in the phrase primum non nocere: “First, do no harm.”

Bottom line is truly caring about a community means more than just looking at the bottom line.

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