LAURINBURG – The Health Department added a doctor to its staff but is still having issues serving patients due to vacancies officials recently told the Board of Health.
Dr. Hudson V. Jones joined the Health Department’s staff in July and is excited about his new position.
Jones practiced general medicine in Toledo, Ohio for 30 years. His wife has family in the area, so the two decided to return to North Carolina.
“It reminds me of what I did in Ohio practicing in the inner city,” Jones said. “It’s a great staff and a great community. I hope I’m able to contribute to the betterment of this county.”
Jones is a graduate of Meharry Medical College School of Medicine in Tennessee.
Though Jones will be seeing patients in general medicine, the department’s revenue collection is still down and may be for a while because providers are still needed in the women’s health clinic.
As of June 30, the department had collected $1.5 million which put them at 81 percent of the $1.9 million budget.
Earlier this year, the women’s clinic added Lester Brigman, a nurse practitioner and pediatric nurse practitioner to cover family health services.
The Health Department has a provider from Physician Solutions under contract to attempt to fill in the gaps, but she can only come in two days a week. The department has a women’s health nurse practitioner lined up but is waiting on the nurse’s licensing and state approval to be processed
“They have to be able to specialize in certain areas, not just see patients,” Health Director Kristen Patterson said.
In other business, Fiscal Management Supervisor Tim Martin told the board that an issue with cost settlements the department receives from the state had been decided.
In 2013 North Carolina Association of Local Health Departments sued the Division of Medical Assistance over changes to the way Medicaid reimbursements are made.
In July, a judge ruled in favor of DMA saying that it “did not violate the North Carolina Administrative Code,” Martin told the board.
The cost settlement would not reimburse health departments for lab costs, limited the number payments for maternity visits, and Health Choice visits for patients who did not qualify for Medicaid but met certain financial requirements.
“That reduces our cost settlement claims by 30 percent,” Martin said.
The county will have to pay Medicaid back $27,054 for the year 2013, but that amount has been covered by a supplement from the state.
Health Director Kathie Cox also gave a presentation on the 2016 county health assessment that pinpointed risk factors and health concerns for the county.
Cox talked a about steps the health department had taken to deal with some of the ongoing-long-term issues.
Members of the department have created a program that gives condoms to local hair dressers and barbershops to distribute in an effort to curb STDs and promote safer sex.
The county has the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in North Carolina and had 372 reported cases of STDs in 2015.
The department has also applied for a grant to address infant mortality issues.
The Health Department has also created an opioid task force with Scotland Memorial Hospital and EMS.
Members of the task force will reach out to NC Rep. Garland Pierce, Eastpointe Mental Health, the police department and the sheriff’s office in the coming weeks to create a plan and gather more information, according to Patterson.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169