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Frequently Asked Questions regarding Vidant Pungo Hospital

September 26, 2013 posted by Corporate Communications

Q: Why did you make the decision to close the hospital now? 
When Vidant Pungo Hospital joined Vidant Health in 2011, it was known that the facility was suffering the effects of age and the environment in which it was located. We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to correct and maintain the integrity and safety of the building, yet the condition continues to slowly deteriorate and is approaching the level that will not allow safe care. Anything more than minor structural damage due to a storm would not allow us to continue to occupy the building. If such an event was to occur, the community would be left without a facility for care. The new facility will be on higher ground and able to sustain care for the foreseeable future. 

Q: When will the new facility open, and what services will be offered? 
We expect to break ground on the new facility within the next few months, with construction anticipated to last 18 months. This will be a multispecialty clinic that offers primary and specialty care, as well as urgent care, available 24/7. Patients can receive treatment for a variety of conditions such as sprains, broken bones, sinus and ear infections and asthma. Outpatient services currently offered, such as radiology, labs and physical therapy, will continue to be offered. Inpatient services will no longer be provided. The construction costs of the facility will be more than $4 million, and will include an adjacent helipad. There will be no gaps in service during the transition period. 

Q: What services will be available once the hospital closes? 
With the closing of the hospital, services will be temporarily transitioned to local Vidant Medical Group physician practices. These services include radiology, physical therapy, labs, specialty clinics and 24 hour-a-day care. 

Q: Why can’t the hospital remain open while you are building the new facility? 
Given the physical condition of the current facility, the expenditures required to maintain the integrity and safety of the currently facility are significant and occur on a monthly basis. Any funds spent maintaining the current facility will not be available for investment in the new facility. 

We need to place current patients in other facilities as soon as possible. As we begin to relocate the patients, we will reach a point where it doesn’t make sense to maintain the current facility from a patient volume perspective. There will be a transition period for all of this to take place. As patient volumes drop, we will be working to assist employees in finding new jobs. 

Q: What will happen when I call 911 during an emergency once the hospital is closed? 
As is currently the case when someone calls 911, you will be transported to the closest appropriate facility based on each county’s emergency management triage protocols and destination plan. We continue to work with county and state emergency management officials to clarify what these protocols and plans are. Initial meetings have already been held and will continue as we work through regulatory issues with the Office of Emergency Management. 

Q: Was there community involvement prior to the decision being made? 
We met with the local Vidant Pungo Hospital Director’s Council and the Pantego Creek LLC. We shared information with these groups on all the issues and current usage data. We received feedback and understanding on the issues and decisions that needed to be made. 

Q: Who voted on the final decision? 
The Vidant Pungo Hospital Board of Directors, which is also the governing body of Vidant Community Hospitals, voted unanimously to approve to build a new multispecialty clinic and close the hospital. 

Q: Where will the new facility be located? 
We are still assessing proposed sites, but the new facility will be located in the Belhaven area. 

Q: What will happen to patients currently receiving long-term inpatient care at the hospital? 
We have nine patients currently receiving long-term inpatient care at the hospital. We are in the process of finding alternate accommodation for these patients. Finding them appropriate care is paramount. We will not close the hospital until we secure their continuation of care. 

Q: What is being done to help the Vidant Pungo Hospital employees affected by this closure? 
We are working to place all Vidant Pungo Hospital staff in other positions across the Vidant Health system. All placements are being coordinated through Vidant Health Human Resources. We are also providing assistance with resume writing, interview skills and other job search related needs to assist those who choose not to continue employment with Vidant Health. 

Q: Why won’t there be a new hospital? 
We looked at a number of options and neither the community nor Vidant Health can afford to sustain the losses incurred by the hospital. 

Q: Where are the current Vidant Medical Group practices located in the area? 
Vidant Family Medicine-Belhaven (Allen Street) 
Dr. Mark Beamer 

Vidant Family Medicine-Belhaven (Haslin Street) 
Dr. Charles Boyette 

Vidant Family Medicine-Belhaven (Water Street) 
Dr. Gregory Jones 
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