Adam O’Neal, Mayor of Belhaven, NC is walking to save his town.

Follow Adam O’Neal on twitter @mayoroneal
What you can do to help.  Mayor O’Neal and others are volunteers in the campaign to save Pungo Hospital.  Walking to D.C. is expensive.  If you can, please consider donating a few dollars to help cover meals, food, water and lodging.

Plymouth, NC—Most people live within 20 minutes of an acute medical facility.  And, up until a few weeks ago, Adam O’Neal was did also.  But, on July 1, 2014 that changed for him and for 20,000 other residents in the Belhaven surrounding area.

Mayor Adam O’Neal, “there’s a lot of politics here.  Vidant gives a lot of money to campaigns.”

4Vidant Healthcare Systems, in Greenville, NC, closed the Pungo Hospital in violation of a mediation agreement signed only a few months earlier.

Before the closure, O’Neal pleaded with lawmakers to keep the hospital open.  He feared someone would die otherwise.  Still, his pleas fell on deaf ears.

Mayor O’Neal teamed up with NC NAACP President, Rev. Dr. William Barber, and together they launched a media campaign to save the hospital.

It failed.  On July 1, 2014—the hospital closed it’s doors with a sign saying, “if you seek emergency care, call 911.”

O’Neal and his town lost the only acute care hospital facility within a 75 mile area. 

Not long after the hospital closed, the town’s worst fears became true.  A 48 year old woman who suffered a heart attack died because she was too far away from the nearest emergency medical facility.

Dr. Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and presidential candidate said on MSNBC that in all likelihood, the woman would have probably survived had she been closer to emergency medical care.



Pictured left to right: Mayor of Plymouth, NC Brian Roth, standing on right Rev. Barber sitting right is Mayor O’Neal

Mayor Adam O’Neal is now walking to Washington, D.C. in an effort to speak with federal officials hoping his town’s hospital can open again.

Joined by legendary civil rights leaders such as Bob Zillner and Dr. William Barber, who organized the Moral Monday rallies protesting Republican legislation in North Carolina, the team hopes to get enough local support and media attention to force government officials to help.

According to O’Neal, over 30 percent of the population he serves lives in poverty.  They do not have the financial means to drive well over an hour one way for their medical care.

I caught up with Mayor O’Neal in Plymouth, NC—about 40 miles outside of Belhaven which was the location of the Vidant Pungo Hospital.

I was able to quickly ask him and Rev. Dr. William Barber some questions during a lunch press conference just before the afternoon walk began.

As much as some lawmakers refuse to respond a few politicians are taking notice.

Marshall Adame is the Democratic candidate for the United States 6House of Representatives in the 3rd district of North Carolina.  He was on the telephone with Mayor O’Neal asking what he could do to help.

Adame is running against Republican incumbent, Walter B. Jones.  Jones has been in the House for twenty years.

Adame had these remarks to say:

5“Today Adam O’Neal, the mayor of Belhaven, NC is bringing to light the recent closing of Vidant Pungo Hospital that served over 20,000 people in the rural communities of Eastern North Carolina. This means that people in those communities will have to travel over 84 miles to receive critical care.
This is not an issue just in this area but in many rural areas throughout our Third Congressional District. The economic challenges has brought on serious life and death consequences in our district. I believe in healthcare for everyone no matter where they live or what tax bracket they may fall under.
What is sad is that Mayor O’Neal has to walk to Washington, D.C. just to ask for help. Where is Congressman Jones? Well that is a great question because if he was here the mayor of Belhaven would not have to walk to D.C. to address this serious issue. This is no longer a political situation – this is a life or death situation that reaches far beyond Belhaven. It reaches you and me, too. If Congressman Jones will not stand up for Pungo Hospital and the people of our rural district, what else will he not stand up for?
I stand today with Mayor Adam O’Neal and the citizens of Beaufort and Hyde Counties in the fight to bring quality, accessible healthcare to rural Eastern North Carolina.”

Video below: Mayor Adam O’Neal and famed civil rights leader, Bob Zellner walking in the rain to Washington, D. C. 



About George Fisher

George is a freelance writer, an author and a Democratic political consultant. He has worked as Deputy Communications Director for a Senatorial campaign and Campaign Manager for several NC House races and one congressional race. He previously worked as a news producer for a local television station.
This entry was posted in Articles in the news, CNN, Congress, eastern North Carolina, GOP, Gov. Pat McCrory, Healthcare, Media, MSNBC, NAACP-Raleigh, Connections with George Fisher, NC GOP, NC NAACP, North Carolilna Politics, North Carolina, Obamacare, politics, Walter Jones and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Adam O’Neal, Mayor of Belhaven, NC is walking to save his town.

  1. barbdant123 says:

    Thanks for the good work you are doing on this important issue.  I will post it in as many places as I can on Facebook.   I may have to friend some Republicans to get it on their sites but will do what I can.   Thanks again. Barbara

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