Pantego Creek declines to participate in Vidant Pungo Hospital change of control

Published 6:01 pm Monday, June 16, 2014

From Sumrell Sugg Attorneys at Law on behalf of Pantego Creek LLC

June 16, 2014.  After many months of discussion and debate, Pantego Creek, LLC has notified Vidant Health and the Town of Belhaven that Pantego Creek will not agree to amend the contract signed in February by Vidant and Pantego regarding the ownership of the Vidant Pungo Hospital campus.  Pantego is the organization created in 2011 to oversee Vidant’s assumption of control of the hospital, which was previously independently operated by a local non-profit corporation.

In February of 2014, and in response to Vidant’s planned closure of the hospital, Pantego and Vidant agreed that upon the closure of the hospital, Vidant would transfer the hospital’s real estate to Pantego, in accordance with the original 2011 agreement giving Vidant control of the hospital.  Pantego and Vidant also agreed that Vidant would construct and operate a new multi-specialty clinic serving the citizens of Belhaven, eastern Beaufort County and western Hyde County, in order to provide for the continuing provision of healthcare services to residents of these areas.  These actions were taken by Pantego after an overwhelming vote of Pantego’s membership in favor of Vidant’s proposed new multi-specialty clinic and against reacquiring and operating the hospital.

Although Pantego had previously accepted a request by the Town to Vidant to postpone the closing of the hospital from April 1 to July 1 so that the Town could make arrangements to assume control of the hospital on July 1, Vidant has indicated that it would close the hospital effective July 1 if the Town is unable to assume the operation of the hospital on that date.  Now, the proposed amendment to the February agreement represents a request for an additional six months, or until December 31, 2014, for the Town to make arrangements to reopen the hospital.  In addition, the requested amendment would have potentially altered other very important terms of the agreement reached in February.

However, Pantego determined that amending the February agreement with Vidant in order to facilitate the transfer of the hospital’s control to the Town was not in the best interest of its members and the community at large as under certain circumstances the transfer could result in the termination of Vidant’s obligation to construct and operate the new clinic.  Furthermore, Pantego continues to have strong doubts regarding the long-term viability of the hospital’s ability, as reorganized, to deliver healthcare services and to provide for the needs of local residents.