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Roger Robertson, president of Vidant Community Hospitals, discusses the Vidant Pungo Hospital in his office Monday. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)
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Roger Robertson, president of Vidant Community Hospitals, discusses the Vidant Pungo Hospital in his office Monday. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

Vidant: Town didn't fulfill agreement

By Michael Abramowitz

The Daily Reflector

13 Comments | Leave a Comment


Belhaven officials’ latest accusations against Vidant Health are an attempt to divert attention from their failure to fulfill their agreement to have a viable plan to take over operations of Pungo Hospital, a Vidant administrator said Monday.

“Since April 1, Vidant Health has worked extensively to assist the town with its request to transfer ownership of Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven,” Vidant Community Hospitals president Roger Robertson said, responding to comments made Friday when N.C. NAACP attorney Al McSurely and Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal announced they were seeking a federal injunction to prevent the hospital’s closure today.


The two men and Vidant Health CEO David Herman reached an agreement on April 1 that Vidant would keep the hospital operating through June 30 while O’Neal and the town put together a plan to assume operations.

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Comments

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Vidant better be watched

Vidant came to Belhaven and took over the hospital. Now.... they might lie and say that they couldn't see that big river right beside it. And they might say that they couldn't read the books that showed a shortfall and they might tell you that they didn't know that folks used the ER without pay and they might convince you that they had no clue about the other shortcomings. Then they might say that there is no future in medicine in Belhaven all the while they bought 100% of all medical practices in Belhaven. They might say all of that but it ain't true. They might also tell you that they did everything they could to help the town take over the hospital. But...someone made phone calls to The gold leaf folks to stop funds that were promiosed to aid the town. PCS in Aurora promised funds but were also called and asked not to aid. The Beaufort County commissioners were called and asked to not give aid to the town. What you say? Who would do something like that? Vidant? Well sure. Ask Dr. Herrman. So they buy a parcel of land and promise to build a $4 million clinic. The town offerd them 2 parcels for free but no thanks. So this land they bought is not zoned for this use. Now they will say that they didn'tknow it wasn't zoned correctly again blaming the town for stopping them. How many times will they be able to claim that they didn't know? Truth is you will not see a clinic. You will see them attempt to pay Pantego Creek LLC the $800,000 to tear the exsisting hospital down. They will do that so no one else can come in behind them and be competition. Then you will se them stay in Boyette's office and call that your 24 hr clinic. No new clinic will be built. They will stay there for 3 years and then pack up and withdraw to Washington Hospital. Soon that too will be gone and a clinic will be left in Washington and the rest of services will be moved to Greenville. That's the 5 year plan. Vidant better be watched.

Vidant better be watched

Vidant came to Belhaven and took over the hospital. Now.... they might lie and say that they couldn't see that big river right beside it. And they might say that they couldn't read the books that showed a shortfall and they might tell you that they didn't know that folks used the ER without pay and they might convince you that they had no clue about the other shortcomings. Then they might say that there is no future in medicine in Belhaven all the while they bought 100% of all medical practices in Belhaven. They might say all of that but it ain't true. They might also tell you that they did everything they could to help the town take over the hospital. But...someone made phone calls to The gold leaf folks to stop funds that were promiosed to aid the town. PCS in Aurora promised funds but were also called and asked not to aid. The Beaufort County commissioners were called and asked to not give aid to the town. What you say? Who would do something like that? Vidant? Well sure. Ask Dr. Herrman. So they buy a parcel of land and promise to build a $4 million clinic. The town offerd them 2 parcels for free but no thanks. So this land they bought is not zoned for this use. Now they will say that they didn'tknow it wasn't zoned correctly again blaming the town for stopping them. How many times will they be able to claim that they didn't know? Truth is you will not see a clinic. You will see them attempt to pay Pantego Creek LLC the $800,000 to tear the exsisting hospital down. They will do that so no one else can come in behind them and be competition. Then you will se them stay in Boyette's office and call that your 24 hr clinic. No new clinic will be built. They will stay there for 3 years and then pack up and withdraw to Washington Hospital. Soon that too will be gone and a clinic will be left in Washington and the rest of services will be moved to Greenville. That's the 5 year plan. Vidant better be watched.

I expect . . .

. . . you are right. The problem with just "watching" is that nobody winds up fixing.

In Ahoskie, as soon as the paint was dry on the Vidant signs, the nurses began openly worrying about the hospital there closing (which is utterly ridiculous if you bother to look at a map - and what can happen on that unit - an hour from any big referral center). This fear was being seeded and sifted down from the top - to managers and then to nurses - and it was clearly to keep everyone in line/not complaining: "Just be happy you have a job."

It's easy to buy into that until you don't have a job any more - even after jumping through all the hoops and playing all the games - and you get to read about the-big-boys-in-the-ivory-towers-who-don't-bill-a-single-medical-service getting their bonuses. I've been very worried about Dr. Boyette, given my own first-hand experience with the cruelty and brutality Herman's management team is capable of.

They cannot say they "care" about their people/patients after the cold-blooded stunt they pulled with me.

If I have to chose between . . .

. . . believing the executives at Vidant or the people who've had their boots on the ground for decades in that community, I'm going to believe the boots on the ground. Because I've been there.

I worked on-and-off for UHS for well-over-a-decade . . . in a number of rural settings . . . doing the thankless scut Pediatric assignments that no one else would touch . . . when doctors left or Pediatric practices melted down. And in that time, I saw some pretty stupid/scary things.

But, as the grand-daughter/descendant of people who lived and died in the Bath-Belhaven-Pinetown area, I've supported UHS from its beginnings . . . because it seemed to be the ONLY system in the state that was about doing what was right by the local hospitals/people it served.

For a short while, a few years ago, I saw signs that the system had the right ideas about growing and coordinating primary-care services (particularly as it pertained to the burden of hospital call in the middle of nowhere) - and I was looking forward to being a part of it. They were willing to think outside of the box - instead of cram everyone in under the same lid. But then along came David Herman and his gang of Mayo-Clinic wannabes.

At the time of the grand name-change, I was in Ahoskie - pulling 24/7 Pediatric hospital call (sometimes months at a time because Vidant did not have adequate back-up) . . . brought in originally because the hospital brass had done what community hospitals in this state always do to local Pediatricians (using and abusing and taking GOOD doctors totally for granted) . . . and gotten the same result . . . i.e. the private/office Pediatricians threw up their hands and walked away. I don't blame them.

For the love of the work (and the LDRP nurses/staff at RCH - a great bunch), I took Dr. Herman's new managers at their word (because hey, "we're all adults - we don't need to clarify everything in writing"), and I kept putting up with (and silently covering) a lot of things I shouldn't have - until I too, could not take the ABUSE anymore. So I sent a letter to management trying to set some reasonable limits (given my prior service) - and to get back to the contract I signed just months before (trusting the managers) - not the one Vidant's faceless corporate lawyers added to/made up as they went along.

I got radio silence until the day I was literally thrown out on the highway in front of my corporate apartment . . . . just six weeks after having knee surgery at Roanoke-Chowan, AND while I was still on crutches/in rehab (!?!). This was after having come back to work just ONE WEEK after surgery - because Vidant's managers only reserve the considerations (for hard work/loyalty/dedication) and chocolate fountains for their own kind. Oh, and I still walk with a limp.

I cried when I watched Dr. Charles Boyette's recent awesome/excellent presentation at a Belhaven town meeting (on You Tube) - because I KNEW the old lion (who my Grandmother spoke of highly) was fighting a losing battle. For I know from sad/repeated experience that the David Hermans of this world ONLY care about the best path to profits, money and bonuses. They do NOT care about the personal labor/history and investments of their "providers" - who can be CRUSHED at a moment's notice if they utter a peep out of management's tune. We're pawns on a chessboard - and we're supposed to be QUIET if we want to keep working - at a Vidant affiliate or anywhere else.

Why yes, the old hospital's physical plant is a moldy mess - that floods in a hard rain, but Vidant rode into town saying they would keep it open. People would not be feeling so BURNED now if they didn't feel that Vidant lied from the beginning in order to attain a longer-term financial goal - i.e. eliminate the "competition" by buying it up and closing it. Bait-and-switch. Now, Vidant's execs want to blame everyone else for their failure. It's the Republican's fault (in Raleigh) because they did not play along with the fiscally-unsustainable-Ponzi-scheme-known-as-Obamacare . . . not admitting that if ANY of these high-dollar suits (supposedly experts in business and law) had actually read the fine print of the law (excuse me, TAX) before they salivated all over it (expecting to bathe in a whole lot of lovely Federal money), they'd have known that states could opt out. If that notion isn't insulting/absurd/fundamentally-deceptive enough, now it's the community's fault because they "didn't pay their bills" or meet the terms of that ridiculous/contrived/forced "accord" - AFTER Vidant defaulted on ALL of the promises they made when they took things over (again, I will take the world of Dr. Boyette over Dr. Herman ANY day). According to the bean-counters, the locals consigned to clinics and paramedics aren't supposed to be emotional or angry. The Mayor is supposed to sit down and shut up. The NAACP should just go away and let old/poor people die. And the unhappy "providers" are supposed to EAT it. It's self-serving malarkey - totally typical of the new-and-not-so-improved corporate monster known as Vidant.

This whole Pantego Creek LLC business SMELLS like a highly-suspect, ethically-conflicted, conveniently-contrived legal morass (that favors the 1.5 billion-dollar corporation over a tiny struggling NC town), and (again) based on my own interactions with Vidant management (who told me one thing and did entirely another), I totally believe town/medical leaders when they say they were sucker-punched.

But the "victors" get to write the news stories, don't they? Bring on the clinics! And the paramedics ("Emergency" only aired in the '70's)!

Viable Plan?

Sounds like Vidant failed to enact a viable plan when they took over the hospital just a couple of years ago. It's sad really, but I see both sides of the issue. I am sure Vidant would keep the facility open if it were possible to do so without harming the fiscal integrity of the system itself. On the other hand, loss of immediate access for the people of that community undermines its ability to attract retirees and provide immediate access to emergency care for its current residents. Vidant should try to stay above the fray without comments like "an attempt to divert attention from their failure to fulfill their agreement", such language is not helpful. They should not be sucked into this type of rhetoric. For these people it's personal and their emotional reaction should be expected, and Vidant's statements should reflect that understanding. Don't rub salt in the wound Vidant.

Aware?

You are aware Vidant was building a 24-hr facility outside Belhaven BUT the mayor and NAACP desired to have the present facility maintained and operational and their proposal was to take ownership and fund? Vidant also wanted to move the new facility outside the flood zone of Belhaven. Belhaven 'floods' during heavy rains, and is devastated by storms. The hosp is located on the river and floods terribly. We don't know 'all the story', but I am aware of 'jerking' by the mayor and NAACP of Vidant. I'm not stating Vidant is innocent of all issues, but anyone that knows how the NAACP operates and Adam O'Neal operates, understands my writing.

I did hear all of that.

It is apparent that the current facility needs to be closed with the mold problems and fiscal sustainability issues. But, Vidant needs to stay above this fray, especially because the actors on the other side will pounce on any chance to keep this stirred up and generate "controversy". I am not really sure why this mayor and Rev. Barber were so involved in the details of this negotiation. Both may be good at PR and community organizing, but neither knows anything about running a health care facility. Who did they have working on the "plan". It was doomed from the beginning, and I sorta knew it was going to go down like this. But, I guess the mayor will save face for his "fight" against the big bad wolf -Vidant and Rev. Barber will have stood up for his constituency. The administrators at Vidant are pretty good at running the health care system, but they should not get down in the mud with professional politicians in a manure throwing contest. They have nothing to gain, and are the "Goliath" in the narrative, so it's best to not inflame the narrative with such sentiment as the statement in the article. Take the tongue lashing, move forward and be done with it.

moderatevoice wrote:It is

moderatevoice wrote:
It is apparent that the current facility needs to be closed with the mold problems and fiscal sustainability issues. But, Vidant needs to stay above this fray, especially because the actors on the other side will pounce on any chance to keep this stirred up and generate "controversy". I am not really sure why this mayor and Rev. Barber were so involved in the details of this negotiation. Both may be good at PR and community organizing, but neither knows anything about running a health care facility. Who did they have working on the "plan". It was doomed from the beginning, and I sorta knew it was going to go down like this. But, I guess the mayor will save face for his "fight" against the big bad wolf -Vidant and Rev. Barber will have stood up for his constituency. The administrators at Vidant are pretty good at running the health care system, but they should not get down in the mud with professional politicians in a manure throwing contest. They have nothing to gain, and are the "Goliath" in the narrative, so it's best to not inflame the narrative with such sentiment as the statement in the article. Take the tongue lashing, move forward and be done with it.
There was a group appointed to 'work on a plan'. Many were businessmen/women in the Belhaven-area and had the best interest of the facility as their focus. Last week, 3 of those leaders sent a ltr stating a plan was not forthcoming and $$ were not in-hand and also stating the LLC of which they were a part, would not accept ownership or transfer of the facility. They had exhausted all measures. At that point, Mayor O'Neal and NAACP 'went into action'.....demonizing Vidant...when the issue was with the organiz set up by the town of Belhaven.

Ongoing saga

If you read the letter from 3 Belhaven-leaders recently, those leaders said the group could not raise the funds and were recommending not moving forward. The Belhaven mayor and the NAACP are the 'pushers'a and expect taxpayers, Vidant to supplement a $2-$3million annual loss, or more! That is the issue. The hospital hasn't EVER been profitable and the city of Belhaven's 'income stream' comes from services to the hosp, i.e. electricity. This is a business decision. The hosp cannot support itself and in today's era of Medicare cuts, will not support itself. Why doesn't the Belhaven mayor and the NAACP operate the hosp and risk THEIR $$$, not mine?

gvegas72

You have a strong statement. Any facts to back up your claim that Vidant did not hold true to their agreement with the town? Sounds like the town could not put together the funds needed.

Typical response by mayor and NAACP

Blame others for their own failures.

Vidant is

underhanded and back stabbing. Hope the locals win this one.

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Bless your heart
Bless your heart