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Hospitals continue to shut down in rural America

Al Jazeera America, July 14, 2014

When Pungo Hospital, the only emergency health facility in Belhaven, North Carolina, closed its doors earlier this July, barely anyone outside this coastal community took notice. But for the town's mayor, Adam O'Neal, the shutdown was a matter of life and death. Pungo Hospital provided health services to 25,000 people in two of North Carolina's poorest counties, Beaufort and Hyde. Vidant Health, a nonprofit network that owns hospitals and clinics in eastern North Carolina, decided to replace Pungo with a 24/7 urgent care clinic offering treatment for minor illnesses and non-life threatening injuries. If the clinic cannot serve their needs, Belhaven residents will now have to travel 30 miles to the next closest hospital.