Facility to open in Westbrooke Shopping Center in mid-April
Amid some concerns by one local doctor and a board member, the Craven County commissioners unanimously gave its approval Tuesday night for a $650,000 annual federal grant to open a new medical facility in Havelock.
The Federally Qualified Health Center is expected to open in mid-April as a new satellite health department. It joins an existing Craven County Health Department facility in New Bern. The similar facility is also federally funded.
The Havelock facility will serve a population that doesn’t have a health care provider, no insurance or marginal insurance coverage, along with those with high deductibles.
It will serve residents of Havelock, Harlowe and other parts of eastern Craven County where residents would have to make long drives to the health department in New Bern.
It was one of 75 such medical centers approved nationwide.
During public comments, the commissioners heard Dr. Marston Crawford with the Coastal Children’s Clinic offer concerns about two points by the county in its application for the federal money.
Crawford said the projections for the number of people the clinic would serve were overestimated; that the county also under-stated the amount of private health care already available and that there was no mention of those current providers.
The concerns of Crawford, who has been a doctor in Havelock for 14 years, were repeated by Commissioner Scott Dacey.
“He (Crawford) did this not out of fear for his own practice, but rather because he is acutely aware of the scarce resource made available to underserved communities,” Dacey said.
Dacey added his own concerns about the effects on the program if the Affordable Care Act is repealed by the new Congress and president.
The board also approved a lease agreement for a 4,000 square-foot site in the Westbrooke Shopping Center for the clinic.
The county will pay $80,000 annually to lease the building, which includes money for the medical outfitting of the building space. That expense can be paid for through the grant money.
Craven County Health Director Scott Harrelson, who made the presentation to the board, said the clinic would have a sliding scale fee rate for non-insured and under-insured residents.
He said the facility would “keep a $50 office visit from becoming a $500 emergency room or urgent care visit.”
The patient fees will include lab work.
The new facility will also include the re-located WIC Cherry Point clinic for women.
Harrelson said more medical care was needed in this area, since Craven County is east of I-95, known medically as “the stroke belt.” He said the area also has higher rates statewide and nationally for many conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cancer and smoking-related illnesses.
He said the facility would provide in-house labs, assistance with pharmaceutical needs, links to inpatient care and access to adult and pediatric dentistry.
He said the wait time for an appointment in New Bern is about three to three and a half weeks.
It is expected the majority of patients will be adult care.