Renovated Dare County Department of Health and Human Services building celebrated with ribbon cutting

Published 10:16 am Saturday, May 28, 2022

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The Dare County Department of Health and Human Services held a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, May 24 to celebrate the newly-renovated facility located at 109 Exeter St in Manteo.

The project, which began in July 2020, started with the renovation of two outdated buildings at the Health & Human Services campus. A 6,500-square foot addition joined the buildings together and now serves as the lobby and registration for the consolidated department.

The ribbon cutting was a joyous event for the staff, who labored through construction for almost 18 months, and for the Dare County Board of Commissioners, who funded the project at a cost of $5,738,583.

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The construction was done by A.R. Chesson, and features high ceilings, modern furniture and light fixtures and a light and bright color palette. The lobby is constructed with bulletproof glass and, according to Health & Human Services director Sheila Davies, “While we hope it will never be necessary, we wanted to make sure we equipped the new lobby to provide for the safest work environment possible for our staff.”

The ceremony opened up with a prayer and remarks from Dare County Board of Commissioners Vice-Chairman Wally Overman, followed by speeches from BOC Chairman Bob Woodard and Davies. Many county commissioners were present, as were members of the Health & Human Services Board and representatives from the offices of Senator Richard Burr, Senator Thom Tillis and Representative Greg Murphy.

After acknowledging fellow board members, Woodard continued, “It was a no-brainer for us. We knew how important this was. We were unanimous in making these decisions . . . This board is a visionary board. They are a progressive board. They don’t react, they provide and look forward to the future,” said Woodard.

According to Davies, the biggest benefit of the expanded and updated facility is that “now the depth and breadth of our services are located under one roof. Whether you are in need of a health program or service, a social services program or service or a veterans program or service we are able to provide this array in one place. Additionally, staff from all of these areas are now more closely connected so we are able to more efficiently identify and connect people to services they may not realize were even available.”

Davies thanked the 160 staff members for their dedication to the community through the construction. “If you’ve lived through construction in your house or work, you get a feel for what that’s like, and I could not be more proud of our staff team for what you all endured – you heard sledgehammers and nails, and you kept your chins up and served our patients and clients. And the dust! Oh my goodness. Really an extraordinary team that we’re blessed with here in Dare County . . . but I will tell you, every trial and tribulation is worth it. This space is amazing. We are able to serve patients and clients safely, efficiently, and effectively, and respond to the growth.”

Tours of the new and renovated space were offered by enthusiastic staff members after the ribbon cutting. The new building features fresh and modernized offices, client interview rooms, a large conference room, meeting areas designed for children and updated bathrooms. On the health side, there are offices for providers, nurses and social workers, a larger lab, a pharmacy, immunization room, exam rooms including a space for ultrasounds, family planning, adult health and spaces for DOT physicals, school physicals and a conference room.

“It’s fresh, our storage space is better, our meeting space is better. [Before the renovations] every patient was bumping into each other. This new space makes the clinic staff much more efficient,” said nursing director Debbie Dutton. “I love my job. It’s a great facility.”