Saturday, October 14, 2006

Island Health Care

Yesterday I mentioned driving to Avon on Hatteras Island to see a doctor. It was a five hour round trip for a ten minute appointment. I went to Avon because we have no health care provider on the island right now.

A reader asked, "No health care provider on the island until next week? Would you elaborate on that? I've seen the health care facility just up the road from the library. Is that not staffed year round? Just curious about how O'cockers cope with the health care related slings and arrows of daily life."

Yes, we do have a health clinic, but for a while now we have had no resident physician. We do have a very fine physician's assistant who is here often (I don't know his exact schedule), but, unfortunately for me, he won't be back on the island until next week.

As you might imagine, it is not easy to attract a physician to such a small isolated village. For one thing, we do not have the funds to compete with most other places. Also, although things slow down in the off-season, the summer months can be very stressful for a single health care provider. He or she is "on call" twenty-four hours a day. It is difficult to go fishing, take a boat ride to Portsmouth, drive "up the beach" for groceries, or even to take a couple of hours to lie in the sun on the beach.

Of course, there are other advantages to serving on Ocracoke, but apparently not enough to keep a full time physician here right now.

You can read our latest newsletter here. It's the story of the Community Store and other general stores on the island.

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