From the managers of Pantego Creek, LLC

Published 10:55 pm Saturday, April 4, 2015

 As the managers of Pantego Creek, LLC, the entity formed to enforce the terms of Vidant’s agreement to takeover Pungo District Hospital, we would like to clarify the facts that have lead us to our current situation. For years, Pungo District Hospital had been operating at a loss and had previously filed for bankruptcy. The Hospital was once again on the verge of failure when Vidant agreed to take over operation of the Hospital and paid off the Hospital’s existing debt in an amount exceeding $1,600,000.00.


Even after Vidant assumed operation of the hospital, it continued to operate at a financial loss. The losses accelerated due to, among other things, the NC legislature’s decision to decline expansion of Medicaid as provided under the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


In the Fall of 2013, Vidant announced their intent to close the Hospital. We, as managers, aggressively negotiated an agreement with Vidant to ensure continued access to medical care for the community. Vidant agreed to build a 12,000 square foot multi-specialty clinic in Belhaven – at NO COST to the community.


In February of 2014, at a meeting of the membership of Pantego Creek, LLC we presented two options: the Vidant proposed plan and a proposed plan led by Mayor O’Neal and Dr. Boyette to take over the operation of the hospital. The membership of Pantego Creek, LLC overwhelmingly, by a margin of 79 to 23, elected to go with the certainty of Vidant rather than gamble on an uncertain and untried proposal. The membership of Pantego Creek, LLC could not accept the risk the Hospital would once again fail and leave the community without any healthcare. Vidant’s multi-specialty clinic will be able to provide the community with quality healthcare for the foreseeable future.


We had, and continue to have, no confidence that the Hospital can be operated profitably as proposed by Mayor O’Neal. They simply have failed at every turn to provide anything more than unrealistic dreams. We have never received an actual business plan or any other documentation from his group. We, like everyone in our community, wish the Hospital had been profitable and able to continue operation.


Throughout this process, we have been solely focused on the best interest of the community and ensuring continued access to medical care. Since the February 2014 meeting and vote of the LLC, we have been personally slandered and subjected to libelous and false accusations about our intentions and alleged disregard for our community. That is completely NOT TRUE. We have been charged with following the mandate of our membership and doing what we believe is in the best interest of our community. We take this responsibility very seriously and work very hard to protect the community and LLC to which we have been entrusted to manage. In truth, we just are not as blindly optimistic as others would like us to be.


In fact, Mayor O’Neal’s campaign to undermine the decision of Pantego Creek, LLC has

only resulted in the Town of Belhaven spending over $350,000.00 of which at least

$188,000.00 of that amount were town funds (aka taxpayer dollars). Your tax dollars


have been spent by the “save the hospital” campaign on lawyers, video productions,

management consultants and continued electrical service to the hospital building.


Like all Eastern Beaufort County and Hyde County residents, we are heartbroken at the loss of our Hospital. But we understand the reality of operating (or rather the inability to operate) a small town hospital in today’s health care industry. We think Vidant’s multi- specialty clinic is going to be a great asset to our community and the most viable, long- term option for continued quality healthcare in our community. We need to stop the escalation of libelous, false accusations and move forward, as a community, before we have no town or medical care at all. We respectfully call for the Town of Belhaven to be fiscally responsible and grant full planning approval and permit Vidant to begin construction on the clinic and cease the wasteful spending of our tax dollars.

Sincerely, Deb Sparrow

Brantley Tillman

Lynn Ross

Darren Armstrong