WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Healthcare professionals and officials in Martin County continue to talk about what’s to come since the closing of Martin General Hospital last week.

County officials said there’s been progress throughout the week since the closing. A meeting held Thursday between emergency responders and officials was a big step in navigating emergency medical services being provided.

“One of the things that’s taking place is we’re going to obviously increase each of the departments budget, but more important than that, is each department is going to submit to the county and to the town, ways in which they can continue to provide quality service,” said Martin County Manager James Bennett.

Just like meetings have continued, so have protests.

“I’m better than I was when I first found out about news,” said Brion Clark, a former Martin General Hospital employee. “So we just got to keep on praying and hoping that it’ll get better.”

Officials said hopefully by the end of the month, Martin General will have an emergency room, but the timeline depends on legislation.

“The county is working hard, they are working very diligently looking at every option as to which is the fastest way to reopen the ER. So I tell people to stay hopeful and keep praying,” said Dr. Harsh Chawla, who was a Martin General Hospital doctor.

Those at the protest say having at least an emergency room will save lives, which is the whole goal.

“I think that’s a good start. I think that you know there’s an emergency room so if something should happen, everyone has a place to go to be stabilized until we can move to the next level which should be to open up a critical area for that patients to be housed if we can take care of them,” said Harold Finn, a former Martin General Hospital employee.

Protestors said having a hospital stay closed is something that just can’t happen. The county manager added, for the citizens of martin county, continue to be patient as they’re trying to find solutions and get through this time.