Town and county officials seek explanation on health care situation; topic will be covered in upcoming meetings
Published 12:10 pm Thursday, June 23, 2022
Two local governments have requested that officials from ECU Health appear to explain the situation with health care on Roanoke Island. Vidant recently rebranded as ECU Health.
In a letter dated June 16, Manteo town manager Melissa Dickerson wrote Dr. Michael Waldrum and requested that Waldrum or his designee attend the next meeting of the Manteo Board of Commissioners set for July 6, 2022 at 6:30 p.m.
The town’s concern reflects community members’ comments about a letter to a reported 3,000 patients from the Outer Banks Medical Group that as of Thursday, June 23, medical services would no longer be available to those patients at the Outer Banks Family Medicine facility located in Manteo.
On Monday, at the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting, Malcolm Fearing and two other citizens addressed the board about lack of primary medical providers on Roanoke Island. “I am troubled about . . . health care on Roanoke Island.”
Fearing suggested that a task force be set up as soon as possible with Dare and Manteo commissioners, Dare’s representatives in the House and Senate, Dare health director Sheila Davies and members of the public to address the health care issue on Roanoke Island.
Commissioner Ervin Bateman said the letter from Outer Banks Medical Group was “callous.”
At the end of the commissioners meeting and before adjourning to a brief closed session, Robert L. Woodard, chairman of the Dare Board of Commissioners, said he learned about the letter two weeks prior. He said he called Ronnie Sloan, president of The Outer Banks Hospital, to ask that someone from Greenville come to Dare County to explain what was going on and Sloan asked Woodard to hold off.
“I don’t like it one bit,” said Woodard, who reported multiple conversations with Sloan and hospital board members.
“It’s time,” said Woodard. “We need some answers. I will call a special meeting. Give us a date.”
Dickerson received a response to her letter to Waldrum on June 22. The response came from Jay Briley, president of ECU Health Community Hospitals, and opened with: “I am writing to you on behalf of ECU Health Chief Executive Officer Dr. Michael Waldrum. Thank you for your letter last Friday and the invitation to the July 6 Town of Manteo’s Board of Commissioners meeting. I, as well as my colleagues from The Outer Banks Hospital, appreciate the opportunity to have thoughtful dialogue around the issues facing health care both locally and nationally.”
The letter noted that “this issue will be a major topic of discussion at this week’s The Outer Banks Hospital Board of Directors meeting, which will take place 10 a.m. Friday, June 24.”
The TOBH meeting will be held virtually and is open to the public, but “will not include open comments or questions, per standard meeting protocol,” stated the notice for the meeting sent out by the hospital. Those who would like to attend the virtual meeting should email Jalila.Milne@theobh.com. Those who would like to submit questions and comments to TOBH should do so via theouterbankshospital.com/contact/.
“Both ECU Health and The Outer Banks Hospital leadership have a good sense of the questions that are top-of-mind for community members and community leaders and will attempt to address those questions at the meeting. We intend to focus the bulk of the meeting on explaining the current reality facing health care, how that reality is impacting us locally and our efforts to recruit and retain providers to our communities,” continued Briley’s letter.
It also stated “I am confident that the information presented in this meeting will answer many of the questions that those in the community share. If there are follow-up questions from yourself or other Commissioners following the meeting, we certainly welcome the opportunity to meet in small groups and continue to the conversation.”
Woodard received a letter from Sloan, also dated June 22, which opened: “Thank you for your continued dialogue and insight as we navigate this complex time in health care. I know the topic of health care, specifically primary care, in Dare County is an important topic for our community leaders and members.” With the exception of the opening paragraphs and Briley’s closing, the letter Sloan sent Woodard and the letter Briley sent Dickerson were worded identically.
The Town of Manteo announced Wednesday morning that its Board of Commissioners will meet in a special session on Friday, June 24 for discussion on the Community Practitioner Program with Franklin Walker, vice president of solutions for the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation. The meeting will be held at 11 a.m. at Town Hall, located at 407 Budleigh Street. Information about viewing the meeting virtually or calling in by phone may be found here.
On Thursday morning, notice was sent about a special meeting of the Dare County Board of Commissioners set for Tuesday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m. to “discuss and take any appropriate action in regards to primary care physicians on Roanoke Island.” The meeting will be held at the county administration building, located at 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive in Manteo, as well as livestreamed at youtube.com/darecounty.
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