WHITE LAKE — Southeastern Health is doing a lot of things right, at least according to a panel that met in Bladen County on Tuesday.
White Lake Town Hall was the site Tuesday evening of a community forum hosted by the regional medical organization. Held statutorily for the hospital every three years, the regional forums are the basis of a report utilized by health organizations applying for grants.
At the White Lake event, Southeastern’s Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas Grant Facilitator Cathy Hunt posed 10 questions to the White Lake health professionals and residents gathered to give feedback.
Participants stressed numerous times how thankful they were to have a medical facility in the resort town.
“(A relative) got a nail in his foot, and we were able to come to the (White Lake Family Practice). They saw he needed a tetanus shot, and we got it done and went straight back to work,” said White Lake resident Jill Womble. “It was very nice to be able to do that.”
Guests did provide constructive criticism. When asked what could be done to improve quality of life and, again when posed a question about environmental concerns, participants cited the “swimmer’s itch” that made state headlines last year.
“Coming from the accommodations side of things, I can tell you the first thing people think about is bed bugs, even though it’s caused by geese,” said Marsha Langston. “It’s a major issue for swimmers.”
Later in the evening, the group praised town officials for working closely with state health and environment experts for solutions to the problem.
One issue that provoked considerable dialogue was treatment for pain. Several White Lake medical practitioners were in attendance and noted that pain specialists are in high demand but also hard to find. One practitioner noted a three-month delay for patients being referred to pain specialists and a “tremendous need” for additional pain management providers. (See the April 21 edition of the Bladen Journal for a look at the opioid epidemic in Bladen County and current legislation to combat it.)
Guests said barriers to access also include transportation, as well as finances for medical care and prescription medication. Overall, though, the group praised medical services in the town.
“Our focus in getting a clinic here was to give White Lake residents and visitors a chance to go in a facility and see a practitioner without having to leave the area,” said Womble. “Now if we could just get a pharmacy …”
Hunt said the information from the forum will be included in a report to the medical community.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.