May 28, 2007

New Pediatrician Hired to Staff Clinic

By Steve Jones, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

May 28--SHALLOTTE, N.C. -- The pediatric clinic at the Brunswick County Health Department has resumed a regular, three-day-a-week schedule after contracting with a Myrtle Beach pediatrician to staff the facility.

The clinic has been a Brunswick County staple for decades, but its schedule suffered when Laura Pope, the nurse practitioner who staffed it for 28 years, contracted cancer last year and died earlier this year, said Fred Michael, the health department's deputy director.

Before her death in February, Michael said, "She'd been out at least six months."

The county contracted another pediatrician while it was looking for another full-time nurse practitioner when Duke medical school graduate Dr. Francesca Brown called. Michael said Brown learned of the clinic's need through Denise Mihal, chief executive officer of Brunswick Community Hospital.

A native of Myrtle Beach, Brown practiced pediatrics for nine years in the U.S. Air Force before returning to the area. Michael said she wants to help underserved children and believes public health is the way to go.

She and health department officials hope that the demand for pediatric care at the health department will build so that a doctor is needed full time.

The clinic will see anyone from infants to 21-year-olds on Mondays through Wednesdays. Michael said there are about 17 appointments on each of the three days now and that additional, walk-in patients can add to that total.

The clinic sees all patients, whether they qualify for Medicaid, have no insurance or are privately insured. Fees are charged based on a patient's ability to pay.

Ideally, Michael hopes the clinic will see 30 patients a day to help fund Brown's $80-per-hour contract.

It's a number he believes is possible.

"I think it's going to take getting the word out," he said of achieving the higher number of patients. "Most of our business is from word of mouth."

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If you go

What -- Brunswick County Pediatric Clinic

When -- 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

Where -- Brunswick County Health Department, County Government Complex, Bolivia, N.C.

Information -- 910-253-2250

Contact STEVE JONES at 910-754-9855 or [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]].

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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