By Peter Vankevich
It may surprise some that Ocracoke does not have a pharmacy.
The Ocracoke Health Center has relied on next-day prescription deliveries from Beach Pharmacy located in Hatteras village. Islanders then go to the health center to retrieve their medicines.
But it is not possible to get them on weekends since the health center operates Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed noon to 1 p.m.).
But filling prescriptions on the island will change as plans are underway for Ocracoke to get its first pharmacy.
It will be located behind the health center in the building previously used by Hyde County EMS and later converted to Health Center offices and storage.
It will be the first open pharmacy in Hyde County, i.e., open to the public and with over-the-counter products.
Currently in Hyde County the only pharmacy is in the Engelhard Medical Center and its use is restricted to its patients.
“The creation of a pharmacy on Ocracoke will not only be historic, the island’s first pharmacy, but also will be a significant asset as it will provide eligible, underinsured patients’ access to medication at an affordable rate,” said Dr. Erin Baker, the health center physician.
Funding is from a grant received under the American Rescue Plan Act (P.L. 117-2), Health Center Infrastructure Support.
“The health center board of directors has been discussing this in earnest for more than a year,” said Joe Rockenstein, chief executive officer of the Ocracoke Health and Engelhard Medical centers.
“I am just thrilled that we’re going to bring this service to the island, that our CEO has followed through and gotten this going for us,” said Sue Pentz, president of the health center board. “It’s exciting and will be a huge service to any of us and the tourists that visit.”
Prescription and refill sales, Pentz said, will yield a new and steady source of income for the clinic.
Rockenstein said the prescription prices will be lower than at commercial pharmacies, and that in itself is a great service to the people of Hyde County.
Within this grant the health center has contracted with Cardinal Health, a company that specializes in the distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical products and serves more than 100,000 locations, according to its website.
They will assist with the complex licensure process and provide a floor plan and shelving design along with security requirements.
Since this is in the beginning of the planning and implementation process, the opening date is yet to be determined, but the hope is sometime next spring or summer.