CEO of Manteo Health Center outlines plans in wake of doctor’s departure

By on November 14, 2023

In the wake of the Nov. 13 announcement that Dr. Jennifer Harrison would be leaving the new Manteo Community Health Center, Joe Rockenstein, the CEO of the Ocracoke/Engelhard/Manteo Medical Centers, sent this Nov. 14 message about plans for the center after that development. (There were no details released about Harrison’s departure).

Here is the text of his message.

First, and most importantly, I wanted to let you know what we, as an organization, are doing to make sure we deliver on seeing patients for your town and Dare county as a whole.  We had been working behind the scenes on coverage and what we could do internally to help our health center in Manteo.  So, here’s what we have/will do:

Dr. Shannon Sawin, currently in Engelhard, will be coming to our Manteo clinic every Wednesday for the balance of the month of November.  And then every Friday in December to help us get through this period.

Lauren Gaines, our Nurse Practitioner in Manteo, has rearranged her schedule to help accommodate more patients (including new patients that need to get on the schedule).

Jolene Jernigan, a Nurse Practitioner with 30+ years of experience and our employee, is willing to come up a couple days a week to help in the interim.  We are just trying to secure housing for her at this point and determine what days that will work with her schedule.

In order to facilitate Dr. Sawin spending some time in Manteo, our Physician Assistant, Kim Pham, will be expanding her schedule to 5 days in Engelhard.

All other staff in Manteo is onboard with these changes and has been appraised of the situation and how to handle any issues.

Dr. Harrison is supposed to be completing her current open encounters as this will impact patients that were awaiting orders for blood work, and referrals.

We will be monitoring those and to make sure no one slips through the cracks of follow-up and testing as needed and prescribed by Dr. Harrison.

We have a couple of leads in regard to replacement providers and I will keep you up-to-date on those as they come to fruition.

We DID NOT cancel patients. People should have a choice and we will be in contact with everyone on the schedule for Dr. Harrison.

SEE ALSO: New Manteo Health Center announces loss of doctor


  • Cathy Ireland

    Why doesn’t he just tell the truth ! She was fired ! She is the best Dr on staff !

    Tuesday, Nov 14 @ 7:42 pm
  • Kit

    Why is medical service such a problem here? Vidant closed the Manteo office; father/son team came in, father to Nags Head and son to Manteo; then father left… Now this group is having staffing problems.. Don’t they pay the staff enough to subsist? It is expensive to live here, after all… Are the staff incompetent? Overall, it doesn’t look good for medical care on the Outer Banks! Having to go to Edenton, Elizabeth City, Chesapeake and beyond for care/treatment is a lot to pay for medical care.

    Wednesday, Nov 15 @ 11:03 am
  • Lori Twohig

    if anyone finds out where she is, I would love to know! she is a fantastic doctor!

    Thursday, Nov 16 @ 9:37 am
  • HonestAnswer

    Honest Answer is that PCP do not make prime money. In other words, it is in Vidant/ECU Health’s best interest to keep hiring Specialist. Specialists bring in tons of money versus the minimal amount that a PCP would bring. The Hospital Monopoly will never tell you the truth, but look at their actions. Vidant/ECU Health continues to grow in the OBX. How, do you ask? They are building specialists offices, staffing them and keeping them open. It’s all about the money!

    Friday, Nov 17 @ 11:42 am