Manteo commissioners hear health care proposal

Published 8:33 am Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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“We’re coming here to provide health care,” Joseph Rockenstein said to the Town of Manteo Board of Commissioners.

Rockenstein, chief executive officer for the Engelhard Medical and Ocracoke Health Centers, repeated his statement made earlier to the town’s Health Care Task Force, which was set up by the town’s commissioners.

The two centers are federally qualified heath centers operating under the Health Resources and Services Administration. The centers provide primary care services in underserved areas. They operate with a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay. The composition of the centers’ board of directors is 51% patients.

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He again explained the centers’ integrated care model that stresses quality not quantity, spending time with a doctor and providing physical, mental and dental health care.

And, he told the commissioners that the goal is not to take away, but to “bring providers to enhance medical services.”

One doctor who will switch to Manteo is already working in Engelhard. Another doctor is also lined up. “The model,” said Rockenstein, “is a big attraction.” Three more doctors are interested.

Rockenstein said “we don’t have a building yet.”

The medical center would operate five days a week and look at what’s appropriate to provide additional times, such as extended hours or Saturday operation.

At the board’s Sept. 21, 2022 meeting, the commissioners were also introduced to the adopted organization chart for the task force. Randy Fenninger made the presentation for the task force, saying the new health center is a “very important beginning.”

He said “the goal of the task force is to look beyond” and prevent gaps in health care. “We need to look mid-term and long-term,” said Fenninger.

Four committees are created: Patient Care, Recruitment and Retention, Facilities and Project Funding. The chairs of these committees, respectively, are Kevin Phillips, Fenninger, Jim Tobin and Tod Clissold. The chairs will form an executive council. Subcommittees are set up to involve more people in the community.