Thursday, September 07, 2017

Island Doctors

As Alton Ballance writes in his book, Ocracokers, "for many periods in its history, Ocracoke had no doctor. Over the years a number of doctors have come here, perhaps staying for a few years or less, but until recently none actually settled here to practice. So Ocracokers learned to take care of their sick or injured themselves, using home remedies and relying on the wisdom and experience of the old people."

No comprehensive list of the island's doctors has ever been compiled. However, here are a few names I gathered from some of the island's older residents:
  • Dr. Morgan (ca. 1900)
  • Dr. Angle (sometime in the 1920s)
  • Dr. McKennon (late 1920s?)
  • Dr. Lewis (ca. 1935/36)
  • Dr. Swindell (ca. 1937/38)
In addition, several midwives served the island over the years, and two nurses, Kathleen Bragg and Elsie Ballance Garrish, were notable caregivers on Ocracoke.

Beginning in the mid-1960s Dr. F. Danford Burroughs of the newly completed Hatteras Medical Center treated many Ocracoke islanders, although that required a ferry ride to Hatteras.

In the summer of 1981 Warren Silverman, M.D. moved to Ocracoke after four decades without a doctor. Dr. Silverman's wife, Jean, a nurse, accompanied him. They practiced from their home until the island's new Health Center was completed the following year. Dr. Silverman also made house calls.

Today Dr. Erin Baker is the island's resident physician. She practices in the Ocracoke Health Center on the Back Road.

Photo courtesy

In addition, Dr. John T. Kihm makes monthly trips to the island from Durham, where he lives and practices medicine.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Howard's Pub. You can read it here:   

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