Monday, July 14, 2014

Backed by NC NAACP and the Forward Together Movement, GOP Mayor Makes 273-Mile Trek to the U.S. Capital to Petition Lawmakers to Save Rural Hospitals

July 14, 2014

Contact: Sarah Bufkin, NC NAACP - or 404.285.3413

Backed by NC NAACP and the Forward Together Movement, GOP Mayor Makes 273-Mile Trek to the U.S. Capital to Petition Lawmakers to Save Rural Hospitals

The NC NAACP and the mayor will provide updates on a press call tomorrow about his march and the complaint filed under the Civil Rights Act against the hospital corporation

Press Call
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
2 pm

Please click HERE to register for tomorrow's call.
(After registering, you will receive the call-in number and access code.)

DURHAM, NC - Flanked by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP; Bill Booth of the local Hyde Co. branch; and other community leaders, Mayor Adam O'Neal of Belhaven began the first leg of his 14-day, 273-mile walk to the nation's capital today to petition lawmakers for help with a rural healthcare crisis that has already cost lives and threatens the well-being of thousands more in his community.

O'Neal, a Republican, has worked with the NC NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement since the Vidant Health hospital corporation purchased and announced the closing of his town's Pungo District Hospital.

Tomorrow at 2 pm, he will join Dr. Barber and Dr. Charles Boyette, who has served as the Belhaven town doctor for the past 50 years, on a press call to speak about his Moral March. Dr. Barber will also provide updates on the Title VI complaint, which the NC NAACP filed against Vidant on the grounds that closing Pungo District Hospital would disproportionately risk the lives of people of color in the surrounding communities.

Earlier this year, the NC NAACP filed a Title VI complaint under the Civil Rights Act, arguing that the hospital closing would disproportionately impact minorities. The Department of Justice offered mediation, and Vidant Health agreed to a mediated settlement under which the hospital was to be returned to the community. But the terms of the settlement were not adhered to, the hospital shut its doors on July 1 and the NAACP has refiled its federal complaint.

Thousands in O'Neal's region must now travel as many as 84 miles to receive critical care. On the first day of his walk, the mayor set off in memory of Portia Gibbs, 48, the first person to die for lack of emergency care since the hospital's closing. Her husband and her children met O'Neal outside the Belhaven hospital today at 9 a.m. to see the mayor off.

Dr. Barber said a prayer to bless the journey and then joined O'Neal on the walk out of Belhaven. He will also march with the mayor tomorrow out of Plymouth, NC - Dr. Barber's hometown.

Once in Washington D.C., O'Neal plans to petition U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and members of Congress to take immediate steps to support small-town hospitals. O'Neal believes that hospital corporations are buying and closing rural health facilities to cherry pick patients who are wealthy and/or well-insured while leaving thousands without emergency care. Expanding Medicaid, and embracing a program in the Affordable Care Act called Accountable Care Organizations are two ways to prevent this deadly trend.

For more information, please check out the campaign website at

WHAT:          Press Call on Republican Mayor's 273-Mile March to Washington DC along 
with NC NAACP's Continued Campaign to Save Rural NC Hospital

WHO:            Adam O'Neal, Republican, Mayor of Belhaven, NC  
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president, North Carolina NAACP 
Dr. Charles Boyette, Belhaven's town doctor for the past 50 years

WHEN:          Tuesday, July 15 at 2 p.m. (ET)

WHERE:       To register for the call - and retrieve the call-in number - click HERE.


Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. The NC Conference of NAACP Branches is 70 years old this year and is made up of over 100 Adult, Youth and College NAACP units across the state, convenes more than 160 members of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) People's Assembly Coalition, and is the architect of the Moral Monday & Forward Together Movement.


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