WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — On Wednesday, Martin General Hospital was the topic of conversation once again as people gathered for a meeting to discuss the future of healthcare in the county.

“We’re dealing with saving people’s lives,” one resident said at the podium.

It also gave the community the opportunity to talk about what they hope for when it comes to getting medical care.

Three doctors, Dr. Steve Manning, Dr. Hersh Chawla, and Dr. Chulva Chawla, have a plan for a Rural Emergency Hospital designation. That’s a Medicare provider that allows struggling hospitals to operate with outpatient and emergency services only, instead of closing altogether.

“It doesn’t fix everything but it does provide an avenue to be able to at least hopefully at some point use the building to have an emergency room which we believe is the first step,” Manning said.

Although there is not an exact timeline, Manning said there are several factors delaying any action taking place.

“Not much can be done until the 60 days is up and the legal ramifications are done or decided on,” Manning added. “Then the hospital building can be decided on how to be used.”

According to Chawla, if the bill is passed on September 11, the designation may take a few months for it to be in action. Then it could possibly open on January 1, 2024. The doctors said they are prepared to move forward once legalities are taken care of. As of right now, they’re limited.

“Ideally I would like to know what is our legal ground, legal situation here, whether the trustees hold all the cards or do we have anything that we can do about it,” Chawla said.

Former employees say they’re eagerly awaiting clarity to move forward from this setback.

“Hopefully we open the emergency department with 100 percent transparency, we just want them to know that we haven’t stopped the fight yet,” said BJ Warren, a former Martin General Hospital employee.