Dare considers sale of home & hospice agency

By on March 2, 2021

Currently, only 3 nurses to serve 56 patients 

With Dare County’s Home Health and Hospice agency facing challenges in retaining enough nurses to meet local demand, the Dare County Board of Commissioners is considering whether selling the agency to a private operating entity would best serve the community.

On March 1, the commissioners had a public hearing on a resolution of intent to consider the option. The move followed an earlier action in December 2020 by board to enter into a $37,500 contract with Roberts Law Firm of Raleigh to investigate the feasibility of selling the agency and identifying potential private entities interested in operating it.

Nurses with Dare Home Health and Hospice, which is Medicare certified and licensed by the state, provide 24/7 in-home, medical services and hospice support to residents of all ages in Dare County who are homebound and may need supportive care. Those eligible could range from individuals who are recovering after a hospital stay or that require palliative care and support during a terminal illness.

At the December commissioners meeting, County Manager Bobby Outten said were only three nurses serving 56 patients in Dare County. In the past, the agency has had as many as seven home health and hospice nurses to meet the needs of the community.

While Outten said the agency had been successful for many years and delivers a high quality of care, he added that the last year has been a struggle.

“It’s a very difficult job, the hours aren’t normal hours…for various reasons, our ability to keep and retain nurses for our home health and hospice program has diminished,” he explained. “In starting to look at some numbers, [they] don’t line up very well in terms of revenues versus costs to provide the service.”

Outten said that county officials, for more than a year, have looked at a number of options to solve the issue. “Do we change salaries, do we subsidize further, or do we let the market take care of it…you all will have to make that decision at some point?” he told commissioners at the time.

Noting that the agency delivers top-notch care to its patients, Outten said that the county was committed to protecting its employees with any contract it may enter in to. “We would certainly have their backs and do everything to protect them,” he noted.

There has been no timeline set for a decision on any sale, but Outten said he anticipates that a response from Roberts Law Firm would come in time for budget considerations for the upcoming 2020-21 fiscal year.





  • Kevin Hay

    The reason Home Health can’t keep nurses is because of low pay and the coding system the nurses are forced to use. Years ago, the county chose one of the cheaper software companies to input the mass amounts of data required by Medicare. I watched my sister perform this task every weekend, uncompensated and on her own time. She is one of the very few to retire from Home Health as most quit long before eligibility for a pension. My sister was extraordinarily committed to her patients, but she put in at least 30 extra hours on her own time each week trying to keep up with the coding and the paperwork. It was really outrageous. She’d be exhausted on her days off then get called out at 2:00am to drive to Hatteras for a patient who was dying. The emotional toll was high, the pay low and the coding on her own time was so unfair. I’m happy she is finally done as that job was killing her. Dare County should treat these nurses better…they deserve our full support for the tough jobs they perform for our most vulnerable citizens.

    Tuesday, Mar 2 @ 8:02 pm
  • Sarah

    The Dare County Hospice nurses and staff helped our family tremendously through the toughest time we have experienced. I hope the county commissioners can come up with a positive solution to keep these AMAZING professionals in place to continue to serve our community. They provided impeccable care for our precious loved one while answering every single question any of us had (regardless of the time of day), and were available and present during our grieving process as well. They deserve the absolute BEST because that is what they provide!!! Our loved one was an integral part of home health previously, so I know the love and dedication that these providers have from the inside prospective as well. With as much income as our county receives we should be able to comfortably provide for public health workers, teachers and other public servants…no excuses. I don’t believe an outside agency will be as to provide the same level of care, and certainly not for a better rate. If they decide to outsource this service I guarantee it will be a much larger expense with a fraction of the professionalism.

    Tuesday, Mar 2 @ 10:59 pm
  • lippy

    I hope the commissioners figure this one out for the good of the community and the dedicated and caring nurses who provide this necessary service.

    Wednesday, Mar 3 @ 7:59 am
  • Manteo

    Kevin your sister was one of the best nurses Dare County had. I wish her the best in her retirement.

    Wednesday, Mar 3 @ 8:41 am
  • Runthecountylikeabusiness

    It’s all about the dollar. Dare county has a lot of money, but it’s very cheap. They don’t like to pay the employees very well or put much into their benefits. Employees have junk Medcost insurance and the echelons of the county have BCBS. Rather than paying the appropriate wages they wait, keeping the money, then do a salary study which cost the county money, then give you the amount of money you should be earning. All the while, the years go by that the employee could have been contributing to their retirement and savings if they’d been paid fairly as the years go by. Some employees say that you get this huge pay raise and it’s great, but that just means they’ve been slave laboring you for years and withholding the money you should already be given. Consider an employee who retires at $45k, and the next year they do a salary study and the employee could have gotten a $6000 raise to adjust to the fair market value of that employee. So how many years did that employee get screwed out of what they deserve, what they could have saved, what they should have been earning? There are a lot of very negative things about “The County of Dare” that make this unique place, not so unique. Someone’s kissing someone’s butt at the state level and trying to justify their positions.

    Wednesday, Mar 3 @ 10:18 am