March 24, 2014
Changes coming to health care facilities
on Hatteras and Ocracoke
By IRENE NOLAN
Both the Hatteras Village Medical Center and the Ocracoke Health Center will see some changes in operations this spring.
Hatteras center will see a change in the health care provider, and the
Ocracoke center will have expanded hours, but will no longer have an
after-hours, on-call provider.
The Hatteras village center just re-opened on Nov. 25 with physician’s assistant Margaret Jazayeri as the provider.
Robinson, a member of the center’s board and president of the Hatteras
Village Civic Association, says that Jazayeri will be leaving this
week. He said that she gave the required 60 days notice.
“Hatteras Island was just not a good fit for her or her family,” Robinson said.
medical center will be closed the first week in April and will re-open
on April 7 with a new provider, nurse practitioner Gail Covington, who
has worked at the Ocracoke Health Center since 2009.
said that Covington spent time at the Hatteras center in the early
1990s and has experience in health care in remote locations.
has a bachelor of science in nursing from East Carolina University and
a master’s degree in nursing and a post master’s certificate from the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Her experience also
includes five years at the Minute Clinic in Raleigh, Durham,
Greensboro, and Winston-Salem where she provided primary care and set
up and opened seven new clinics; seven years at a gynecologic,
obstetrical, and primary care provider as the Wendover ob/gyn and
infertility clinic in Greensboro; five years at First Health of the
Carolinas Montgomery Women’s Health Service in Troy, N.C., where she
set up the clinic and provided care at a remote rural location, and six
years at Hampton and Lewis ob/gyn and infertility clinic in Oxford, N.C.
will commute from Ocracoke, but Robinson said that she well knows that
the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry can’t always run. She will set up a
place to stay at the medical center, where she will spend the night
“Finances are really tight, and it will be a bumpy road for while,” Robinson said.
“We’re still in need of community support,” he said, “both financial and having folks visit the center.”
Part of the finance problem, he said, is that health insurers have been slow on reimbursements since the center opened.
Hatteras Village Medical Center will be open Monday through Friday from
8 a.m. until noon and from 1 until 5 p.m. It will be closed on
holidays, including Thanksgiving and the day after.
The phone number is 252-986-2756, which is the same one the medical center had in its former life.
Ocracoke Health Center will expand its clinic hours, beginning June
2. The clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 until 7 p.m.
and from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The expanded hours
will be offered in order to reduce the need of the after-hours, on-call
provider service that the clinic has provided for many years. The
Ocracoke Health Center will be discontinuing this after-hours, on-call
provider service beginning April 1.
The Health Center
will utilize an after-hours nurse call line. When patients seek
after-hours medical advice, they will be able to call 252-928-SICK and
talk directly to a nurse for assistance. The nurse will be able
to guide the patient as to whether the patient needs further medical
service, such as Emergency Medical Services, or if the problem can be
treated during regular office hours. The Health Center is also
planning on a limited after-hours provider on-call service during
weekend hours. During that time, all true emergencies will
continue to be referred to 911 and EMS services, and the on-call
provider would be available for urgent medical care as needed.
to a news release from the health center, “Since 2003, the health
center has employed two, full-time, medical providers that alternately
worked in the clinic and provided after-hours care. In place of
costly, per hour on-call service, the providers were paid full time
salaries with full-time benefits. This system worked well for many
“But over the last several years, the decrease in
income generated by after-hours visits, the strain on occupancy tax
funding and the lack of grant funding for after-hours, has left us with
insufficient funding to cover the costs of after-hours care.”
release notes that after-hours service was carefully scrutinized for
cost effectiveness and utilization and that the need for the service
has progressively declined.
The Clinic Medical Director,
Dr. Erin Baker, along with the Board of Directors and Cheryl Ballance,
CEO, determined that expanded hours and a Saturday clinic would cover
the majority of the visits we reviewed. Over the last three years
only 7 percent of total patient visits were made as after-hours
According to the release, the center “welcomes
community input and concerns and will make arrangements to meet with
all individuals who have concerns about their care.”
also be working with the Hyde County EMS so that they are aware that we
will not be handling emergency calls as in the past. Our goal is
to provide a patient-centered medical home to our community and to
continue to provide quality medical care.”