WJTV News Channel 12 - Belhaven mayor meets with Va. gov as walk to D.C. continues

Belhaven mayor meets with Va. gov as walk to D.C. continues

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BELHAVEN, N.C. - Belhaven mayor Adam O'Neal made a stop at the Virginia governor's mansion in Richmond on Tuesday, as his walk to Washington D.C. continues.

O'Neal tweeted a picture from inside the governor's mansion. 

Using the hashtag "save-our-hospital," O'Neal is walking to spread awareness about Medicaid expansion and rural healthcare. 

We'll have more on his stop tonight at 11 on 9 On Your Side.

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Belhaven mayor Adam O' Neal continues on his long walk to Washington D.C. in hopes of saving Vidant Pungo Hospital. 

The hospital closed July 1st, leaving residents of Hyde and eastern Beaufort counties without a hospital or emergency room.

O'Neal made his first stop in Plymouth Tuesday. In total, O'Neal will make 9 stops on the 237 mile journey to the nation's capital. 

He says his decision to make the walk is an illustration of how serious this problem is."The purpose of the walk would be to talk about what happened to us,” said Mayor Adam O’Neal. “What Vidant did to Belhaven and the bad faith they dealt in. It’ll also be about critical access hospitals."

 Mayor O' Neal says this walk isn't just about Vidant Pungo Hospital, but about the closure of rural hospitals across the United States.

"We have hospitals closing up at an alarming rate. More rural hospitals have been closed in the last year than in the previous 15 years. That is a trend that's got to be stopped," said O’Neal.

According to The National Rural Health Association, 15 rural hospitals closed in 2013. The non-profit organization says this year seven more rural hospitals shut their doors.  NRHA anticipates three more hospitals will close in the coming months.

The president of the state NAACP  plans to join Mayor O' Neal when he arrives in Washington D.C. 

O' Neal began his walk around 9 o'clock Monday morning.       

If you would like to follow along with O' Neal on his walk, click here.
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