The new PORT Health Services on Hatteras Island is scheduled to open on Wednesday, January 16, roughly a year after the concept of an island-based mental health services center was first proposed.
The new center, which is housed within the former Medical Center building in Hatteras village, will initially offer individual therapy, group therapy, psychiatric medication evaluation, and ongoing maintenance medication appointments, and will save island residents hours of travel time by eliminating the need for regular trips to Nags Head.
“Everything is ready to go,” says Michelle Hawbaker from PORT Health. “Our signs are up, the internet and TeleMed is set up and functioning, and we are going to start seeing patients next Wednesday.”
The new PORT Health Services site stemmed from a grassroots movement which was spearheaded by a Hatteras local, Wendy Stowe Sisler. Wendy lost her 31-year-old son, Cory, in December of 2017 after a long struggle with substance abuse, and she has worked tirelessly ever since to bring expanded and more convenient mental health services to Hatteras Island.
Along with Michelle and plenty of assistance and cooperation from the Dare County Board of Commissioners and County Manager Bobby Outten, the team worked throughout 2018 to transform the old medical center into a welcoming site where locals could obtain help with substance abuse recovery.
Wendy spend months creating a relaxed and welcoming interior, collecting pieces from local artists along the way to hang on the walls, and while Michelle tackled the nuts and bolts of what the mental health center would require, from new cabinets and bookshelves, to internet and phone lines.
On its first day, PORT Health will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but its exact schedule in the future will be dependent on the needs of the community.
“We’re adjusting [our schedule] as we get our patients in, and determine their needs,” says Michelle. “If anyone is interested in medication assistance treatment, they should call us at the Nags Head office, because we will be working our times for these [services] around their schedules.”
Though there are a few finishing touches to complete before the center officially opens its doors, for all parties involved, the upcoming Wednesday opening marks the end of a long journey.
“It’s been almost a year since we first started talking about it, but it’s exciting to see all our work coming together,” said Michelle. “Everything is up and running, and we are ready for patients.”