Residents react to next steps toward opening Martin General Hospital

MARTIN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – There are still many questions about what’s next for the Martin General Hospital building, but Tuesday was a step toward getting answers. State health officials and county leaders toured the building to decide if it could become a Rural Emergency Hospital.

Hope for Martin General Hospital to become a Rural Emergency Hospital lingers among people living in Martin County.

“We need a place to go that’s not so far away. If you have an emergency, you have to go to Greenville,” said Martin County resident William Coe.

Friday, Ascendient, the consulting firm hired by the county, said Martin General Hospital could reopen as a Rural Emergency Hospital, or REH.

On Tuesday, state health officials and county leaders walked through the building to figure out what it would cost to renovate and how that would be paid for.

However, some feel this process may take a while.

“Nothing’s going to happen overnight. We’re not gonna have any healthcare overnight,” said Martin County Resident Cathy Price

There is still concern about having to drive to the next county in case of an emergency.

“I mean, it’s one thing to put your family member in the car and drive 5 minutes to the hospital and another to drive 35 to 45 minutes,” said Price.

Some living here hope county leaders will step up to make something happen.

“The people of Martin County are still very anxious about the prospect of us getting an emergency medical facility here as soon as possible. We’re also concerned about the lack of leadership some of our county commissioners have shown during this time,” said Martin County resident Herber Coltrain.

But for now, they’re left with lots of unknowns.

“I think there’s a lot of questions out there that need to be answered, and the public needs to be aware, concerned, and active in their concerns,” said Price.

After the walkthrough, a spokesperson for Ascendient says they can move forward with a “request for proposal” to interested parties that want to provide healthcare in the county.

There was also a chance for residents to voice their concerns at a listening session Tuesday evening hosted by Congressman Don Davis, allowing community members to ask questions and local leaders to get feedback from the public. The session will took place at Martin Community College, Room 14 of Building 1, at 6:30 p.m.