Reprinted courtesy of The Outer Banks Voice 

By Rob Morris on October 3, 2017

Sentara took over in March, 2014. (Voice)

Three years after taking over the old Regional Medical Center in Kitty Hawk, Sentara plans to shut down its services in the building .In a statement Monday night, the health-care company said the condition of the building factored into the decision.

Sentara moved in as part of a deal with Pasquotank County that included several local medical practices and Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City. Pasquotank County owns the property, and Sentara has been operating the facility under a 30-year lease.

County Attorney Mike Cox said Tuesday the Board of Commissioners signed off on Sentara’s decision, but how the terms of the lease will be settled is still being worked out.

What will happen to the building is not yet known, but until a decision is made on the lease, operating it is Sentara’s responsibility.

“It’s their call as of now,” Cox said.

Annya Soucy, Sentara marketing and communications adviser, said the health-care company’s subleases with other tenants, including Bear Drugs and non-Sentara medical practices, will remain intact. Bear Drugs owner Stephen Archbell Tuesday said he plans to keep the store and pharmacy open.

In its statement, Sentara said the building needed extensive renovations to continue operating as a medical facility.

“Sentara Kitty Hawk has undergone several building repairs in recent years,” the statement said. “However, despite these repairs, the issues remain ongoing.

“Recently, Sentara contracted with third-party evaluators to review HVAC, air quality and the building structure, which identified multiple major repairs that would be required to meet operational healthcare standards.”

With the closing, planned for Dec. 15, health care will no longer be available from Sentara Urgent Care, Advanced Imaging Center and Sentara Therapy Center and Outpatient Laboratory.

Also to be closed are Sentara-owned medical practices that include Sentara Family Medicine Physicians, Sentara Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists, Sentara OB/GYN Specialists and Sentara Surgery Specialists.

The Ambulatory Surgery Center and CT scanner in Kitty Hawk, which closed in late August because of air quality, building and structure issues, will not reopen, the statement said.

Sentara and Vidant Health have been strongly competitive in their efforts to establish health-care dominance in northeastern North Carolina. Vidant, which runs The Outer Banks Hospital and is based in Greenville, N.C., has expanded its local services and facilities.

A rehab facility is under construction on the hospital property in Nags Head and the town’s Planning Board recently signed off on a radiation therapy center across the street.

Vidant had been managing Albemarle Hospital for over a decade. That agreement expired in 2012, and the Albemarle Hospital Authority opened a bidding process to explore options. The hospital operation included several medical practices and the Kitty Hawk facility.

In 2014, Sentara signed a least that called for paying Pasquotank at least $1.339 million a year, with payments increasing to $1.75 million by the end of the 30-year term, and $3.28 million in 2109.

Nearly $63 million in long-term debt would be absorbed by Sentara, while the company committed to no layoffs of current employees in the first year and $40 million in facility and equipment upgrades in the near future.

Dare County taxes the Kitty Hawk land at $1,761,600 in value and the building at $5,441,800.

“This decision is one of the most difficult our health-care system has ever had to make and we gave it great consideration,” Coleen Santa Ana, president of Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, said in the statement.

Sentara will continue to operate Sentara Family Medicine Physicians in Manteo Sentara Family & Internal Medicine Physicians in Moyock and Sentara Cardiology Specialists in Kitty Hawk.

Soucy said Sentara has set up a website to help patients find new providers and to answer other questions related to the facility.

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