Who pays for Pungo Medical Center?

Published 2:27 pm Sunday, April 26, 2015

To the Editor,

I’m concerned about the newly created Pungo Medical Center, Inc. (PMC), of which Commissioner Richardson is Vice-Chair, to replace the old Pungo Hospital (PH). As I understand it, this began around November 2014, and, until recently, unknown to the general public. PMC has hired a Florida firm with a problematic past (though Richardson states they’ve been “fully vetted”), New Frontier Hospitals, to manage it. Richardson stated at the April 6 County Commissioner meeting that the PMC is a non-profit 501c3. This being the case, all its documents: 501c3 letter, tax ID number, mission statement, board members, bylaws, budget, meetings, minutes, business plan, etc. should be available to the public, but none of these have, even upon request. However, the PMC is not a 501c3.

The only document released is the feasibility study, which had not even been made available to Pantego LLC, owners of the PH property, until requested of Richardson by Commissioner Waters at that meeting. The PMC plans to seize the PH property by Eminent Domain, then apply for grant funding and loans. The hospital Certificate of Need (CON), licenses, Joint Commission Accreditation (necessary in order to receive Medicare reimbursement) cannot begin until the PMC has ownership.

Beginning this process, Richardson brought before the Board of Commissioners, on behalf of the PMC (conflict of interest?), a request for $2,500 for a pre-application for a grant submission to the Department of Commerce (DOC), for a $400,000 grant for two years, creating at least 45 new jobs, 40 of which must be retained for those two years or the grant must be repaid.

Once PMC has seized the property, after paying the owners fair market value (unknown), after receiving the DOC grant, the PMC will then apply for a $6 million USDA loan, which he says will keep the PMC in operation for two years, even given the low insurance reimbursement rates. Should the project fail, or at the end of those two years, no one knows what will happen to the PMC or who would be liable (we taxpayers?) for the $400,000 grant or $6 million loan.

Richardson stated that NO ONE knows if the hospital can be operated successfully, but asked Waters to turn over the deed so PMC could “give it a try.” Waters asked Richardson whether the Vidant clinic was being held up because Belhaven hasn’t provided the necessary permits. Richardson said Vidant has everything it needs because Belhaven had hired him as a consultant (conflict of interest?) to be sure it did.

So, the bottom line is: The PMC has no business plan, doesn’t own the property, has no appraisal, has no grant or loan, no CON or licenses, no non-profit status. The only thing they have is a signed six-month management contract and $2500 from us. Serious questions must be answered before taxpayers pay one more cent. Should we “give it a try”?


Kathy Vasquez