Bertie opens new Health Department

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2005

WINDSOR – Just look at them now.

Only a few months removed from their crowded and outdated building on Barringer Street, the proud employees of the Bertie County Health Department rolled out the proverbial red carpet and welcomed a large gathering of guests here Thursday afternoon where a brief ceremony formally opened the department’s new office.

The blue-and-white building just off US 17 north, adjacent to Bertie Memorial Hospital (BMH), is the new home of the Health Department. Its well-designed 8,450 square feet of space is a far cry from is cramped quarters at the old Roanoke-Chowan Academy complex.

Windsor Mayor Bob Spivey called the facilities (the Health Department, BMH, Bertie Rural Health and Cashie Medical Center), &uot;one-stop healthcare shopping.&uot;

&uot;I can remember standing on this property when it was a cotton field,&uot; Spivey recalled. &uot;Ralph Hall, a facilities engineer with University Health Services, took out a piece of paper and sketched what he saw as a model medical facility for the whole country. What we see here today is a completion of that dream.&uot;

JoAnn Jordan, a Registered Nurse who serves as the Health Department supervisor, was extremely proud of the effort that led to the new office.

&uot;This is a county that cares about its citizens,&uot; Jordan said. &uot;This isn’t about me, this is about our citizens. This is about the efforts of our County Commissioners, Mr. (Jerry) Parks (Director of Albemarle Regional Health Services, the parent organization of the Bertie Health Dept.) and Mr. (Zee) Lamb (Bertie County Manager).&uot;

She continued, &uot;This is about the 23 dedicated people that work in this office, providing quality health services to Bertie citizens. Spread the word, we’re here for you.&uot;

Parks, who oversees a seven-county healthcare organization, stressed that each department, despite linked to Albemarle Regional Health Services, is autonomous.

&uot;This is the Bertie County Health Department,&uot; Parks said.

He added the road to get to this point was one of pure vision.

&uot;Vision without action is only a dream,&uot; he noted. &uot;This is not a dream. What we see here today is a vision with action.&uot;

Both of the Health Department’s neighbors – BMH and Bertie Rural Health – welcomed their new friends to the north end of Windsor.

&uot;When I look out my front door and see this new office, I can only think of how fortunate we are in Bertie County to have the very best in medical services,&uot; said Dr. Al Thompson of Bertie Rural Health.

&uot;This is a great day for healthcare,&uot; BMH CEO and President Jeff Sackrison noted. &uot;This facility will help improve the level of healthcare for the good citizens of Bertie County.&uot;

Bertie’s Board of Commissioners launched discussions in 2002 concerning the construction of a new health department. One year later, the Board fully committed to the project by approving a measure to borrow $1 million in construction funds. Bids were let in February of 2004 and the office opened in March of this year, almost $150,000 under budget.

&uot;The Board and I felt the citizens of Bertie County deserved the same level of healthcare found in the more affluent areas of our state,&uot; Lamb stressed. &uot;They have it now with this new office and with BMH and Rural Health right next door.&uot;

Commissioner L.C. Hoggard, who also serves on the Board of Health, said change was sometimes necessary to move forward.

&uot;We first had to look at our past to see our future,&uot; Hoggard said. &uot;We were fortunate to have some people with a vision to see Bertie’s future, one that includes our link to Albemarle Regional Health Services. Those visionaries saw our merger with them as the right move, and it has been with this state-of-the-art facility that will serve the healthcare needs of our citizens.&uot;

Board Chairman Rick Harrell echoed those thoughts by saying, &uot;This is a fabulous facility that will benefit the citizens of Bertie County for many years to come.&uot;

Norman Cherry Sr., Vice-Chairman of the Bertie Board of Commissioners, offered the prayer of dedication just prior to the official ribbon cutting ceremony. Tours were then given of the new office.

The Bertie Health Department provides general health services. It is opened from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Walk-ins are welcomed.