Craven County received a grant worth around $704,000 as part of the Affordable Care Act aimed at expanding and enhancing primary care services. Craven County was one of eight North Carolina counties, and one of 168 counties nationwide, to receive the grant.
Craven County Health Department Director Scott Harrelson said the money is much needed.
“We saw an influx of people that really hadn’t had a medical home in several years,” Harrelson said.
The grant announcement comes after the county spent around $20,000 to hire a federal grant writer to help with the application process, which took about a year itself.
Harrelson said they plan to use the money to expand the number of examine rooms at the primary care clinic from 6 to 12, and hire another doctor and additional staff members.
Currently the clinic sees more than 2,000 patients each year, but Harrelson said he is hopeful that with the money, they will be able to increase that number to 4,000.
Currently, wait times for adults to be seen at the clinic can reach several weeks.
“It’s been as far out as six weeks to get a routine appointment and we hope to see that back down to a week or less,” said Dawn McCabe, the supervisor at the primary care clinic.
The clinic was built three years ago after CarolinaEast said there were too many patients at the Emergency Department that didn’t have true emergencies.
Some in Craven County said they were excited that the money could reduce wait times.
“When you come back here in the waiting room, you know you’ve got to sit a little bit and wait until the doctor gets to you,” said Charlotte Smith.
As part of the grant, Craven County will continue to receive about $650,000 every year for the foreseeable future. McCabe said that money will be used to expand care and treat anyone who needs it.
“This opens up a lot of opportunities for us and things that we desire to do, just didn’t have the ability to do before,” McCabe said.