From Bob Zellner, Civil Rights Activist:

Walk with us to Washington, DC to save rural hospitals in America.

Rural hospitals are facing the greatest challenge to their existence in the history of our country. In the next year, 283 rural hospitals face the uncertainty of possible closure. It is time to act. We are asking rural hospitals from all over the country to send a representative to our June 1st, 2015 walk from Belhaven, North Carolina to Washington DC to petition Congress to pass measures to ensure rural hospitals sustainability.

In July 2014, we saw the closure of our critical access hospital in Belhaven, North Carolina. After the closure, everyone seemed to think all hope was lost for our healthcare and the economic future in our town. With the assistance of Reverend William Barber, President of North Carolina  NAACP and Al McSurely, Civic Rights Attorney we began a walk to Washington, DC.  We received national media coverage on our walk and a White House sponsored meeting with key people in Washington to help us begin the process of reopening our hospital. This walk was solely responsible for keeping hope alive in our small town.

Now it is time for America to stand up and demand that Washington DC work on our rural hospital crisis. Our rural hospitals are just as important as any urban medical centers. We feed America and deserve to keep our current level of healthcare. When hospitals close, emergency rooms close and that means needless deaths — our children, family members and neighbors. We have to stand up for ourselves and THE WALK will get Washington’s and the nation’s attention.

THE WALK starts a national debate about the condition of rural hospitals today. Horrific damage is done to communities who lose a hospital. The potential closure in 2015 of 283 hospitals means 36,000 lost healthcare jobs, 50,000 community jobs lost, 10.6 billion in lost GDP in rural areas. Also, if you have just 10 needless deaths per closed hospital per year that means 2830 needless deaths of Americans each year. This would be equivalent to a 9/11 attack happening year after year.

Please watch the videos on this website and commit to doing something meaningful by signing up to join us on THE WALK.

This is an issue we all agree on regardless of party or politics. Let’s show Washington how we the people can cross party lines and work on this most important issue. Let’s set an example that Washington can follow now and in the future.  Reverend Barber and Mayor O’Neal have become symbols of the power that is generated when health care for poor people becomes a national moral issue.

Adam O’Neal, Mayor, Belhaven, NC

Dr. Charles Boyette, 2003 National Country Doctor of the Year

Bob Zellner, Civic Rights Activist