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BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — They provide vital services to the citizens of Pender County, but budget issues may keep law enforcement from continuing to help Pender County’s only hospital.

As the county’s only healthcare provider, Pender Memorial Hospital offers a wide variety of services.

“We have a full service emergency department here in Pender County, and obviously as a result of that, from time to time we will get mental health patients in our emergency room,” PMH president Ruth Glaser said.

When a mental health patient checks in, the hospital has to lean on area law enforcement to help maintain safety.

“We can call them if we have needs,” Glaser said. “They make rounds routinely through here. They’re very busy and very good for us and are, again, a very good resource to our hospital.”

Due to budget concerns, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office and the Burgaw Police Department have insisted that Pender Memorial Hospital hire its own private security force to assist with mental health calls. However, hospital officials say that’s simply not an option.

“I think on a day-to-day basis there’s not necessarily something going on all of the time that would keep somebody busy,” Glaser said. “Certainly if you are a police officer or a sheriff’s deputy you know that trouble could potentially just be a matter of time away.”

The law enforcement agencies say the service they provide the hospital impacts their staffing and also their bottom line keeping officers off the streets and on overtime.

Both the Pender County Sheriff’s Office and Burgaw Police Department declined interviews for this story, but Burgaw Police Chief Bill King says he is working on sitting down with the hospital to resolve the issue.

Comment on this Story

  • Peyton Garrett

    Sounds like a Pi**ing match and the Sheriff and the Police Chief are doing the Peeing,,,,,on the hospital. It is a public facility. The Burgaw Police and The Pender County Sheriffs Dept. are Public entities. Figure it out and try to do it without dragging it through the rumor mill and the newspaper. 99% of the time I am sure one of the two agencies can spare an officer to deal with a mental patient or a drunk in the ER. My god, the Sheriffs Dept is right across the street, 50 yards from the ER. These agencies have been doing it for 60 years and now they find it is not in their interests? What about the public? Please, give me a break. If you can not make a random call to the hospital then what in the world do these guys do all day at the schools. Is the school board paying for the resource officers?

  • SurfCityTom

    the Sheriff and Police Chief are taking this approach. Certainly their officers should be available as needed. At the same time, there should be a reasonable method by which the Departments can bill for services rendered.

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  • NHHS Wildcat

    If you know anything about law enforcement, you can figure out this probably is more about the service of involuntary commitment orders. They require a sworn officer to present patients to a local physician. Problem is, by the time a patient is seen, committed and ready for transport, a whole shift goes by. It’s a real drain on LEO resources. So, either the hospital gets to hire its on police, or the sheriff and police chief will have to hire more manpower.

  • SurfCityTom

    but the point remains they could bill the hospital for services rendered.

    For that matter bill the Boards of Education for the resource officers placed on campuses.

    See how soon inattentive parents take an interest when they start getting billed for the costs incurred when their little waif becomes disruptive in school. That will open their eyes.


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