Hospital campaign may end up hurting Belhaven

Published 5:52 pm Saturday, September 19, 2015

To the Editor:

I believe protest movements oftentimes have a tendency to last much longer than the facts actually support their existence. Case in point, Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal seems more determined than ever with each media exposure crafted to “Save Our Hospital.” He has become a real folk hero to some, while others simply cringe in embarrassment whenever Belhaven makes the news feed again. You have to hand it to the mayor though, he has become quite a polished interviewee, learned a lot about organizing campaigns, and he now knows how to gain an audience with some pretty important people in the political realm. I wonder if this is a training for some future endeavor in the back of his ambitious mind. But, the argument that the Pungo Hospital needs to be resurrected is no longer a feasible argument. It becomes more apparent every day to the rational. But the ego of the campaigner cannot not admit it. Even as Vidant construction is well underway and more medical options than ever before now exist in the area.

What would be scary for Belhaven is if O’Neal is somehow able to win the argument through political grandstanding. His movement would then have to operate a hospital, and make a profit in order to survive. But how will they do it, in a town that will already then have well-established medical providers to compete against. Where would the emergency room refer patients needing surgery or intensive care? If its efforts fail, what further damage will that do to Belhaven’s reputation and financial standing? Questions that I suggest are beyond the scope of concern for a protest movement that can only envision a moral victory against big business.

Respectfully, Mayor O’Neal, managing an attention getting protest and managing a solvent hospital are two different worlds. Don’t hurt Belhaven further to make a very weak point. You have wrongly invested your time and energy in something that will only divide us further as a community. If you want to really provide leadership, humbly admit the cause is lost and think about Belhaven’s future and not its past. But, I realize this has become your sole purpose for two years, you can’t just end it. Nothing personal, Adam, but I hope something stops you. I think you are unintentionally going to hurt Belhaven in the end.


David W. Pierce