close Hatteras clinic on Dec. 30
It’s official. HeathEast Family Care will close its Hatteras office on
including patient files, will be transferred to the remaining
HealthEast clinic in Avon starting the first week of January, said
Travis Douglass, vice-president and executive director of University
Health Systems physicians, which contracts the three UHS doctors on
of the 14 or so full-time staff will be laid off, and hours in Avon
will be extended, Douglass said in a telephone interview on
Wednesday. Specific details are still being hammered out.
unclear what the hours will be,” he said. “There will be greater
coverage at lunch and on the weekends and early evenings. There will be
seasonally-adjusted hours as well.”
said that the doctors are free to do after-hours calls, “but that is
not something that we’re working on.”
July, Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern North
Carolina informed Dare County officials that it could no longer afford
to operate both clinics. The county was given the option of paying
$300,000 annually to keep both clinics open or to continue its $100,000
annual payment but one clinic would close.
efforts by the county to find another provider to operate the clinics
proved fruitless, and the county Board of Commissioners voted last
month to continue the $100,000 subsidy. Since the county kitty was down
to bare bones, the board agreed that the additional $200,000 needed for
the second clinic was not available.
clinic is located on 1.5 acres of land that was given to Dare County by
an act of Congress in August of 1966. The land had been part of the
Cape Hatteras National Seashore and was donated by the Department of
Interior on the condition that it would be used only as a health
facility. The legislation specified that if the property was no longer
used to locate a health clinic, it would revert to the federal
clinic was opened in the late ‘60s through the efforts of Hatteras
villagers after the land was donated. It was the first medical clinic
on Hatteras Island.
Health Systems has not had to pay rent there, and the county has paid
many of the costs for utilities and upkeep.
the health system reportedly pays about $125,000 a year to lease the
10-year-old Avon clinic, it has indicated that it preferred keeping
that one open.
Outten, Dare County manager, said that an ad hoc committee is working
to find another health-related occupant for the Hatteras building so
that the terms of the land donation are maintained. Potential options
include using it for county Health Department business or for health
care service provided by a nurse practitioner.
going to make sure that facility does not revert back to the Park
Service,” he said.
no matter what fills the space, closing the Hatteras clinic, located 15
miles south of the Avon office, will create hardships, said Dennis
Robinson, a member of the ad hoc clinic committee and president of the
Hatteras Village Civic Association.
think it’s a huge impact definitely on the southern part of the
island,” he said.
no public transportation available on the island, the elderly and
disabled -- the frailest and neediest -- Robinson said, will be most
affected. Whoever the new tenant is that ends up occupying
Hatteras building, he said, it is unlikely that the occupant will be
able to make up for the health services that have been lost.
said that a meeting will be held in the near future to hear input from
was the first to have a medical center,” he said, “and losing it is not
something they want to think about.”
Evans, owner of Beach Pharmacy in Hatteras, said that he expects the
closure to hurt his business, but he couldn’t predict to what extent.
Although he also owns a pharmacy in Avon, he said that the Hatteras
drug store is critical to Ocracoke Island residents as well as Hatteras
said he has heard from many folks who were unhappy and worried about
the health systems’ decision, some to the point where they’re
threatening to leave the island.
upsets them that all they seem to care about is the money,” he said
about UHS. “The health care is going to suffer.”