Belhaven, North Carolina Mayor Adam O’Neal and a ragtag entourage are walking from this picturesque seaport town to Washington D.C. to protest the closing of his town’s critical access hospital (CAH) while calling attention to the 283 other rural hospitals on the endangered list.
We’ll catch up with Mayor O’Neal during Monitor Mondays’ upcoming broadcast on Monday, June 8. Mayor O’Neal began his protest march from his picturesque town of Belhaven, N.C., a distance, symbolically, of 283 miles, on Monday, June 1. When the group arrives in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 15, they plan a rally on the steps of the nation’s Capitol.
I’ve been in contact with one of the volunteers, Yvonne DeRuiz, who’s marching along side the mayor. She’s been updating me via her cell phone when the signal is strong enough. There’s a caravan of three support vehicles with food, clothing and first aid supplies. They’re averaging about 20 miles a day, trudging along rural highways mostly, it seems, in the rain.
You can follow the route at this website: http://thewalknctodc.com
Last year, O’Neal made the same walk, at that time to protest the death of 48-year-old Portia Gibbs, who, according to the organization’s news release, suffered a heart attack and died after waiting – one hour, in the back of ambulance, in a high school parking lot – for a medical helicopter to arrive. She could have been at Belhaven Hospital in less than 30 minutes had it not closed just six days earlier.
Joining O’Neal on the broadcast will be the vice president of government affairs for the National Rural Health Association, Maggie Elehwany.