Archived Story

Down East Seniors Club, Aug. 17, 2014

Published 6:55pm Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Down East Seniors held their weekly meeting on Wednesday, August 13, at the Blind Center of North Carolina. President John Tunstall presided, Ed Sample led the singing of God Bless America, the Pledge of Allegiance was made, and Durwood Cratch gave an invocation. Following the opening ceremonies, Jokemeister Dick Paul provided a humorous story.

Bobby E. Roberson gave a brief presentation of his early days and career. He was born in Washington and graduated from high school here. Bobby continued his education by graduating from Atlantic Christian College majoring in business administration and political science. He also has a master’s degree in Urban Planning. His work experience included a production planner with Texas Gulf, assistant city manager in Wilson, director of planning and development in Greenville and director of planning and development in Washington. Bobby is married to Elaine Bryant and they have eight grandchildren. After his recent retirement, he is currently serving his third term on the City Council as Mayor Pro-tem.
Roger Tuttle was the program director for this meeting and gave a detailed resume of his speaker, Rocky Jacobs, who had agreed to discuss some of the current details in regard to what is happening with the medical situation in Belhaven. Mr. Jacobs is well qualified to discuss this matter because of his intellectual background and participation in local affairs. He retired in 1992 from his position as chief operating officer for the 190,000-student Fairfax County, Virginia, school system. He has worked as a consultant for the Office of Overseas Schools for the federal Department of State; he coordinated legislative liaison activities with members of the U.S. Congress, the Virginia General Assembly and other organizations for the Virginia Department of Education; and locally, he has been chairman of the Directors’ Council of Vidant Pungo Hospital, chair of the Board of Trustees of Pungo District Hospital, among several other responsible community positions. In his presentation, he pointed out that the Vidant Health System has met and continues to meet its obligations under the “Change of Control Agreement” that was entered into by University Health Systems (now Vidant), the Pungo District Hospital Membership Corporation and the Pantego Creek LLC. The Pungo District Hospital, most recently the Vidant Pungo Hospital, had been operating at a low volume of patient attendance and at a considerable deficit for many years. University Health Systems, now Vidant, agreed to assist the Pungo District Hospital and to try and put it on a sound financial footing, but if it could not to ensure the area had appropriate and sustainable health care. Vidant was unable, after taking over the hospital’s operations, to change the hospital’s financial direction. This was due in part to the deteriorating condition of a 60-plus year old building and reductions in state and federal revenues. Therefore, under the terms of the original agreement, Vidant decided to close the hospital, to continue operating the three doctors’ clinics they have in Belhaven and to construct and maintain a 24-hour urgent care facility, with doctors’ offices, outpatient facilities, a helicopter pad and ambulance service for patients needing transport to more appropriate medical care or a trauma center. His presentation was met with considerable enthusiasm and many questions.


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