Manteo Community Health Center formally opens

Published 4:26 pm Sunday, July 23, 2023

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The Manteo Community Health Center officially opened Tuesday, July 11, 2023.

From a task force idea and appointed chairman to opening, the project took 370 days.

Volunteers dedicated to meeting the medical needs of Manteo people and others made the center possible.

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The right person answered an initial phone call.

Two boards said go ahead. A building owner said yes. An architect said okay. A builder said yes.

Medical professionals and staffers said yes we will operate the center and deliver whole person health care.

The Manteo Community Health Center is located at 402 Budleigh Street in Manteo. The phone number to make an appointment is 252-300-3005.

Standing in front of that renovated building, Malcolm Fearing, who chairs the Town of Manteo Healthcare Task Force, started the ceremony with a little history.

“This came about as a community effort,” said Fearing.

The Manteo Board of Commissioners recognized the need. At the time, the existing primary care facility in town had sent letters to 2,418 patients saying it could no longer provide primary health care services.

Community members came to talk with the commissioners. Vice-mayor of the board Betty Selby said, “It’s a crisis.”

The board acted to set up the Healthcare Task Force. Fearing thanked the board for its courage, wisdom and leadership.

Manteo town manager Melissa Dickerson answered a phone call from a man named Joe Rockenstein. He is the chief executive officer of Engelhard Medical Center.

He said “we want to help.”

Rockenstein heads the Ocracoke and Engelhard federally qualified health centers. Dickerson knew what that meant. Soon, the task force would too.

The partnership between the task force and Engelhard got to work. A location was found. Architect Ben Cahoon delivered plans in 30 days. Ocean Builders, the firm owned by Tommy Twiddy, when to work on the interior space and outside appearance. The opening date July 11 was set and met.

“This is totally about community,” said Rockenstein last Tuesday.

Susan Pentz, chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Ocracoke and Engelhard centers, affirmed her board’s dedication to setting up a center in Manteo.

Rockenstein introduced board members and thanked many staffers who made the opening possible.

“We’re a little bit different,” said Rockenstein. “It’s health care the way it used to be.”

He said “you’re not a number to us.”

The center features “whole person” health care. “We spend a little more time with patients.”

The center will deliver physical health care services at the Budleigh Street offices. Mental health care will come remotely. Dental care comes through a partnership with the Community Care Clinic of Dare.

“We serve all patients,” said Rockenstein. “We serve everyone.”

He said, “It matters not. You can come and see us. Our job is to provide health care to you.”

Manteo Mayor Bobby Owens praised his town. “It’s always been first.”

Selby introduced the children and leaders involved in the summer program at the Dare County Youth Center.

The Town of Manteo public works staff closed a portion Budleigh Street for the event. A crowd estimated at 100 people gathered in front of the Budleigh Street building and across the street in shade.

Rockenstein said his board-approved budget was $400,000. The construction bill was just under $300,000.

A reception in the Town Hall sponsored by the Town of Manteo and the health centers followed the program.

Manteo Healthcare Task Force

Manteo Healthcare Task Force members appointed by the Board of Commissioners for the Town of Manteo had their first meeting Aug. 2, 2022.

Malcolm Fearing, Task Force chairman

Betty Selby, Mayor Pro Tem, Manteo’s Board of Commissioners

Tod Clissold, Manteo commissioner

Jim Tobin, Dare County commissioner, alternate commissioner Ervin Bateman

Sheila Davies, director of Dare County Health and Human Services

Tess Judge, chairwoman of the Board of Directors of The Outer Banks Hospital

Amy Montgomery, senior administrator of Operations at The Outer Banks Hospital

Kevin Phillips, pharmacist from Island Pharmacy

Randy Fenninger, retired health attorney and public policy advocate

Beulah Ashby, retired Dare County employee and former member of The Outer Banks Hospital Board of Directors

Lisa Wheless, counselor, liaison with Dare County Schools

2023 Board of Directors for Ocracoke and Engelhard Health Centers

Susan Pentz, board chairperson

Michael Adams, board vice-chair

Julio Morales, treasurer

Susan Dodd, secretary

Members: Ed Cody, Morton Gaskill, Art Keeney, Alice Keeney, Earl Pugh Jr. and Robert Wayne