46 Miles Down, 237 to Go

Walkers overcome rain, sore muscles, and horseflies to log the first two days of their 14-day walk to Washington, D.C. The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness of the threat of hospital closures in rural America.


A video produced by Save Our Hospital describes participants' motivation for the walk. A pediatric nurse practitioner from Texas said she was concerned about lack of health-care in the Lone Star State, which she said has the nation's highest rate of uninsured people.

Day two of the walk to Washington to save rural hospitals has drawn to a close, with participants roughly 46 miles up the road from Belhaven, North Carolina.

Rain, sore muscles, and horseflies were some of the obstacles that came along in the second day of the walk, according to participants who are tweeting along the way. (Follow the walk at #savethe283.)

The walkers are trekking through North Carolina and Virginia to the nation’s capital to preserve critical access hospitals, which serve rural communities across the country.

Belhaven, North Carolina, Mayor Adam O’Neal reported that the effort to save rural hospitals had some collateral benefits Tuesday. The walkers – who numbered 15 when they left Belhaven on Monday – picked up a stray kitten.

O’Neal reports via Twitter that they left the pet with a woman who said she would name it Pungo, after Pungo Hospital. That's the hospital Vidant Health closed last year, leaving Belhaven without an emergency room and sparking community efforts to save the institution. In turn, that led to last year’s march to Washington to raise awareness of the plight of rural hospitals that are facing difficulties.

This year, organizers O’Neal and civil rights activist Bob Zellner have additional marchers with them representing 14 states. Others will join along the way, they said.

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thewalkdctonc blog

Devon Geary wears a rain poncho on day two.
Walkers plan to cover 283 miles, one for each rural hospital that is facing the threat of closure, O’Neal said.

Participant Devon Geary said after the first day’s march that her legs were sore but her spirits were high. “The beauty of this place, and the commitment and compassion of these people will rejuvenate our energy for the next fourteen days,” Geary wrote in a blog post on the walk’s website.