Community Health Care – Your Local Options


Imagine you or a family member is experiencing a medical emergency and you have no choice but to be transported 50 or 100 miles to the nearest hospital for treatment. Imagine the worry, the stress. Perhaps you are in a city that you are unfamiliar with and dealing with medical staff who are strangers to you…That scenario is something residents of northeastern North Carolina do not have to worry about.

Sentara Albemarle Medical Center (formerly Albemarle Health) is right here in our neighborhood, providing quality healthcare services – routine, specialized, and emergency – to our community. Since 1914, citizens of the region have had the benefit of being served by a true community-building hospital, a luxury many small towns don’t have. 

For 100 years, our local hospital and supporting physicians have done what small town hospitals do best – they have provided personal healthcare to area residents, developed relationships with the community, and supported the community as a whole, economically and as a substantial employer. Staff members host or participate in over 150 community events annually and serve over 20,000 volunteer hours locally. Economically, the hospital adds over fifty million dollars to the local economy.

“It’s our mission to improve health every day – we want to do this not only in the hospital setting, but also out in the communities we serve,” says Arina Boldt, Healthy Communities Manager.

A typical struggle for small, stand-alone community hospitals is winning over the same human, financial, and technological resources that often go to larger hospitals.

“In smaller communities, it is getting more and more difficult for private ‘physicians to make it,” says Dan Terryberry, M.D., Chief Medical Officer. “Sentara has the financial and human resources to come alongside long-tenured physicians and handle the back office details – the personnel, insurance, billing, etc. We handle those things so they can continue to do what they do best – ‘practice medicine.’”

For Patients Under 21

The medical team at Coastal Pediatrics has a thirty year history of taking care of Elizabeth City’s youngest patients right here in the same community where our families live, work and attend school. In addition, families with young children who find themselves in need of pediatric specialists have access to one of the nation’s 43 freestanding children’s hospitals within an easy hour’s drive away. Fourteen specialties ranging from asthma and allergy to pediatric surgery and sports medicine are offered at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Health Center in Oakbrooke and are referred by physicians at Coastal Pediatrics.

Home Health and Assisted Living

Whether it’s adult daycare you are looking for or post-operative assistance at home, our region has plenty of options. In Elizabeth City alone there are ten companies who offer assisted living or
transitional healthcare at home.

New Technologies – The da Vinci System’s Robotic Arm

Sentara Albemarle Medical Center just became a more technologically advanced, state-of-the-art healthcare facility with the purchase of the da Vinci surgical system. This surgical device gives surgeons the capability to operate with even more precision.

The system is manufactured by a company called Intuitive Surgical that specializes in technologies “that allow surgeons to operate intuitively with the same direct approach as open surgery, but through small incisions.” The less invasive a surgery is, the fewer problems patients are likely to have.DaVinci_RMuldez

The da Vinci system has robotic elements, but it is far from what most people think of when they think of robotic surgery. Nothing happens on its own or is pre-programmed. The miniaturized
instruments translate the surgeon’s movements at the console into very precise movements inside the patient’s body. It can be used in the areas of gynecology, urology, thoracic, cardiac, and general
surgery procedures. According to an article published in The Wall Street Journal, the da Vinci system is the only robotic system designed for general surgical procedures.

According to Dr. Robert Holt of Sentara Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists, “The 3D, HD camera allows for unprecedented visualization of the operating field.” The machine copies the surgeon’s specific movements and actions. “The machine, which I operate from a console beside the patient’s surgical table, is exceptionally precise in the placement of instruments and incredibly flexible, with movements similar to a human wrist,” says Dr. Holt.

At Sentara Albemarle Medical Center only three physicians in the local area are certified to operate the da Vinci system – Joseph Jenkins, M.D., Daniel Reichenbach, M.D., of Sentara Surgery Specialists, and Robert Holt, M.D., of Sentara Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists. The system is used to perform hysterectomies and cyst and gallbladder removal. The surgeons believe that the system will be used for other minimally invasive procedures as the technology evolves. “We’ll soon begin using the da Vinci to repair hernias and treat reflux problems as well,” predicts Dr. Jenkins.

Celebrate 100…Plan for 200

In one hundred years what will people think of how medicine was practiced in 2014? What will they think of the surgical tools that are considered state-of-the-art today? Sentara Albemarle Medical Center set the stage for such speculation on December 12, 2014 when they created a time capsule as part of their 100th birthday celebration. Included in the time capsule were photographs, notes from employees, employee uniforms, shirts with previous hospital logos, and a portion of a surgical arm from the da Vinci surgical robot.

The ceremony, held in the hospital lobby, was attended by over 100 people. Presentations included a history of the hospital and how medicine has changed over the hundred years since the hospital’s opening in 1914.

Article By: Deborah J. Malenfant
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