NC Senate passes revised bill to waive hospital requirement

Published 3:44 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Town of Belhaven is one step closer to reopening its hospital facility.

The North Carolina Senate voted 44-0 this afternoon to approve a revised version of a bill that amended the definition of an existing hospital facility, among other things.

This follows a previous Senate vote on Sept. 17 regarding a different version of the bill. After the Sept. 17 vote, the bill was sent to the House, which further amended the bill, adding in provisions for computing storage and allowing hospital jurisdiction to cross state lines, according to Belhaven Board of Alderman Julian Goff.

Upon passing the revised version, the House sent it back to the Senate for today’s vote. The bill will now go to the governor’s desk.

If signed, the bill would qualify Belhaven’s hospital building as an “existing facility,” and eliminate the need for the town to obtain a certificate of need.

The certificate of need is essentially a license to run the hospital, and is one of the requirements for Belhaven to obtain a $6 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture to help cover the costs of reopening the facility.

Mayor Adam O’Neal said the next step is to move forward with plans for claiming the property under eminent domain, which is another requirement to obtain the USDA loan for the reopening.

“I would like to thank Sen. (Ralph) Hise and Sen. (Tom) Apodaca particularly for their help with this bill, as well as our home Sen. Bill Cook. They were very instrumental in this vote today. I’d also like to thank (Rep.) Paul Tine, (Rep.) Mike Speciale and the Speaker of the House Tim Moore,” O’Neal said, also thanking the Belhaven residents who accompanied him to Raleigh.

O’Neal is expected to speak at a press conference at the Legislative Building in Raleigh today at 4 p.m.