Second of Two Parts

Health Department assumes leadership role

The updated, accessible entrance at the Pamlico County Health Department. Call (252) 745-5111 on Monday-Fridays between 8 am to 5 pm to schedule an appointment or inquire about current services.

By Advika Kumar 

Editor’s note: A team of Duke University students, having spent several months behind the scenes at Pamlico County Health Department, offers this upbeat two-part report and shares a major milestone in the journey of this rural health provider.

BAYBORO – State Accreditation means the Health Department will lead a collaborative effort, ensuring care for all residents. In the summer of 2022, the Health Department hosted a team of Duke students, mentored by Dr. Diana Silimperi (a Pamlico resident, and member of the Pamlico County Health Advisory Board, as well as a Duke Global Health faculty member)  and Dr. Sumedha Ariely (also a faculty member at Duke Global Health Institute), and partnered with them to research the existing gaps in the county’s healthcare, as well as identifying vulnerable sub-populations. In 2022, the students presented to both the Board of County Commissioners and over 15 representatives from health-related stakeholders in the county (at a County Health Advisory Board special session) to share these findings and initiate work to fill the gap. This is a model of academic-community partnership, proven in many areas to support growth and development on both ends.

“Part of the Duke Global Health Institute’s mission is to work with N.C. partners and health professionals to co-create effective and sustainable solutions to our communities’ health concerns”, Dr. Ariely shares. “The Duke-Pamlico County collaboration supports deep student learning. Data collection is required to understand and address county health needs, and supports the development of a professional pipeline between university graduates and the Pamlico County health workforce”. 

The Pamlico County Health Department has been eager to strengthen connections with the other health centers and leaders in the county, including the CCHC Pamlico Medical Center and the Pamlico County Community Health Center, supplementing the clinical services offered while adding a component of community outreach, environmental health, and public health that would otherwise not be a part of the county’s health infrastructure. 

“Through partnerships, we are taking a more detailed look at community needs so our efforts and services can be better tailored to meet those needs”, shares Lynn Hardison, Director of Nursing at the Pamlico County Health Department. “We recognize this has been lacking for a long time – COVID, insufficient funding, and staffing shortages.  We continue to strive to overcome these challenges to better serve our community and to meet their needs.”

Looking Forward

The work doesn’t end here, and the staff and providers at the Pamlico County Health Department are already working tirelessly to not only maintain these improvements but also raise the bar for how they serve the county. The next step on the horizon is health education and a renewed communications strategy to tackle local challenges identified in the Community Health Needs Assessment, including ways to serve the county’s large veteran populations better and address the vaping epidemic at local schools. 

Public health is an ongoing commitment to the citizens of the county. Strong healthcare supports current residents in living happy, healthy lives while attracting tourists and new residents, boosting the economic prosperity of the county. 

Every aspect of public health ties to the economic, physical, and emotional well-being of Pamlico’s citizens, and it all starts with the dedication of the people behind the scenes at the County Health Department.