Manteo commissioners start task force to address medical care

Published 8:10 am Wednesday, July 13, 2022

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Manteo commissioners moved decisively Wednesday evening to address the lack of medical care on Roanoke Island.

At the end of the meeting, under agenda item “Manteo Healthcare Discussion,” Mayor Bobby Owens pointed the board in the direction of setting up a diverse group to work on the issue. “We need to keep moving.”

Vice Mayor Betty Selby said, “we need to do it fast.”

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Commissioner Tod Clissold said the situation is an “emergency.” He said “I’d like to get the ball rolling tonight.”

Clissold pointed to the presentation by Franklin Walker with the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation. “Walker will work with us to construct a plan.”

Commissioner Ruth Stetson commented about the whole situation: “this is really crummy.” She wanted to know if more than 2,418 patients were affected by the May 23, 2022 letter, which announced primary medical care to those patients would no longer be available at Outer Banks Family Medicine – Manteo. She said some people were handed letters.

Clissold pointed early to asking Malcolm Fearing to pull together a group and later made the motion to form the Manteo Family Medical Practice Task Force to work with town manager Melissa Dickerson and Walker.

Fearing has stressed that the medical care issue is the most important facing the community. “It’s the whole community,” said Fearing, who called for efficient and caring delivery of medical care.

Said Owens, “I heard you accept, graciously,” who flashed his classic grin at Fearing. He promised to call an emergency board meeting when action was needed.

In this general discussion about primary medical care, the commissioners questioned and suggested.

Commissioner Sherry Wickstrom wanted to know the scope of work for the task force and how it will communicate with the public. She also said federal COVID funds amounting to $232,000 might be available. “This is doable.”

Clissold commented that having more than one medical provider gives a choice. “Hopefully, we won’t be in this position again.”

Commissioner Eddie Mann wondered about putting up a medical facility “here.”

Commissioner Darrell Collins suggested a $10,000 debt payback as an incentive, adding to the Medical Society Foundation’s $70,000 promise over five years.

On Thursday, July 7, Dickerson was in communication with Walker about a time to talk.

The Medical Society Foundation program that Walker heads is called the Community Practitioner Program. It works to establish private practices in underserved areas.