In response to the Letter to the Editor, Pantgo Creek LLC

Published 11:24 pm Saturday, April 18, 2015

To the Editor,

The new corporation set up by the Town of Belhaven to reopen the hospital is Pungo Medical Center, Inc. We feel a need to set the record straight on several comments made in your April 5 edition of the Washington Daily News by the Pantego Creek, LLC managers: Deb Sparrow, Brantley Tilman, Darren Armstrong, and Lynn Ross. The hospital issue is far too important to let misinformation be unchallenged in the public dialogue.

The managers stated that the hospital was about to fail and needed Vidant Health for sustainability. There were other options that the Board, at that time, didn’t consider, including restructuring the way the hospital was operated. We now know that the hospital was overstaffed. The hospital had 129 employees when actually the appropriate number of employees was about 55. Some may ask why Vidant didn’t decrease the staffing? We now know the answer to that question. They wanted to close the hospital to prop up their failing Vidant Beaufort Hospital. Their executives have stated that they knew they were going to close our hospital when they took it over. Neither the man who made the motion to go with Vidant, nor the man who seconded the motion knew that Vidant meant to close our hospital.

The managers also brag on Vidant paying off a $1,600,000 debt of the hospital. They failed to mention that Vidant was given over $2,300,000 in assets. They then mention Vidant will open a new 12,000 sq. ft. multi specialty clinic at no cost. The actual cost is our hospital, our economic future and lives through needless deaths.

The managers mentioned that their membership voted 79 to 23 to go with their recommendation over the option offered by Mayor O’Neal and Dr. Charles Boyette. The option they mention as Mayor O’Neal’s and Dr. Boyette’s was actually the town of Belhaven’s option. At the meeting of the LLC members in February, 2014, the managers were present and ran the meeting. At this meeting a business plan paid for by the Town of Belhaven was presented by Rural Community Hospitals of America. The plan was explained by the Chief Financial Officer of RCHA and offered up as an alternative to allowing Vidant to close our hospital. After the presentation, the managers told the LLC members they would be liable for losses if they went with the town’s solution and that they personally had to come up with $28,000 per member. Both of these statements WERE FALSE and now subject to a pending lawsuit. They then conducted their voting process in an intimidating manner.

The managers say they have never seen an actual business plan. THIS IS FALSE. As mentioned above there was a business plan presented at the February 2014 LLC meeting they conducted that showed the hospital as sustainable. They were also invited to several public presentations of the RCHA business plan as well as a business plan by Poole and Associates. They were invited to one presentation with the Federal Mediator from our mediation with Vidant. They said they were coming to the meeting and then stood up the Federal Mediator who flew in from Atlanta to see them. As of now, we have had 3 business plans done that show our hospital, run properly, can actually make money.

The LLC often states they are independent from Vidant Health. The information in their letter about the Town of Belhaven expenses due to the struggle to save our hospital were obtained through a Public Records Request by Vidant. They are sadly still working with Vidant to deprive our area of life and economic prosperity.

We have a petition with over 6,000 names on it asking the LLC to give the hospital to the town for reopening. It is time for the LLC to stop fighting the will of the people. The managers need to stop pulling against the community and help us reestablish a vibrant hospital. What our people need to know is why a very small group of people, the LLC managers, continue to oppose the reopening of the hospital?


Adam O’Neal

Mayor of Belhaven