May 16, 2018


New Mental Health Center on Track for Summer Opening

By JOY CRIST

The new PORT Health office, which will occupy a section of the former Hatteras Medical Center, is getting closer to an anticipated summer opening, thanks to the approval of a three-year lease by the Dare County Board of Commissioners at their May 7 meeting.

Per Michelle Hawbaker of PORT Health Services, the county will orchestrate some needed improvements at the site that includes building a walkway and re-lining the parking lot, which is expected to be completed by July 1. While this occurs, PORT Health will start to stock the offices with necessary equipment and supplies, and prepare for a late summer opening.

“I am hoping for us to open by the first of August,” said Hawbaker. “I think we’ll be able to move in there fairlyquickly.”

PORT Health offers mental health services and substance abuse treatment, with a primary office in Nags Head. Currently, PORT Health Services shares a small office in Frisco next to the Sheriff’s office where they provide some services for local individuals, but for the most part, folks have to travel up the beach to Nags Head and to PORT Health’s larger office to get in-depth care and treatment.

The completed space in Hatteras will have a small waiting area, and four offices. One of the offices will be used for a group room, and the other offices will be used for therapy and equipment.

“Right now we have a social worker who goes there and does individual therapy once a week,” says Hawbaker. “We will add a second day of therapist [treatment], and will have a licensed clinical addiction counselor down there for an additional day too. We will also add two groups per week, and we should be able to do that part pretty soon [after opening.]” There will be no pharmacy at the center, (or immediate distribution of medicine), but long-term plans include a number of potential options, including possible partnerships with local organizations such as Yellow House Ministry of Hatteras Island, Source Church in Manteo, and HighLife25.

PORT Health is working with an advisory committee to map out what will work best for the Hatteras Island community, and public outreach efforts are being planned in the next few months to obtain local feedback and insight, and to provide info on the new center.

“There has been a lot of people who have expressed a desire to volunteer or help in some way, so we’ll take a closer look to utilize the help that’s out there,” said Hawbaker, “And there will be opportunities for the public to learn more.”


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