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Dare County News

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Health & Human Services: A Culture of Quality

Post Date:04/29/2016 2:02 p.m.

Quality is a way of life for employees in the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services' Public Health Division. For years, the division has conducted biannual community and patient satisfaction surveys and used the information to enhance their services provided to the public. 

Spearheaded by Human Service Planner, Laura Willingham, a quality team was established and the division began a renewed focus on quality in 2013. The team took on projects that aimed to cut down wait times and establish a streamlined patient education program that provides pertinent information in the waiting and exam rooms. One of the first and most important projects on the agenda was to establish community and patient satisfaction surveys. 

Over the years, several changes have been made to assure our community and patients receive the best possible services. In 2014, survey feedback noted that 50% of the community respondents felt Kill Devil Hills was a more convenient location for services, and as a result the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) team extended their services to include a Kill Devil Hills location. 

In the fall of 2015, the patient feedback survey indicated opportunities to address the ability to get appointments, hours of service, and length of time in the waiting rooms and exam rooms. Additionally, in the 2015 community survey 31% of respondents suggested additional hours be added for service delivery. 

Previous to this survey, prenatal and maternal health services were only offered one day per week. After staff discussion around the opportunities identified in the surveys, the team felt the best way to address all of the requests was to extend the hours for prenatal and maternal health services. 

In January of 2016, the clinic began to pilot the extended service hours for prenatal and maternal health with the additional support of our certified nurse midwife, Ashley Marshall, to Monday - Friday, 8:30- 5:00pm. Services were also extended to include the Frisco clinic location in March of 2016. 

The survey conducted this spring noted improvements in all areas identified in the patient feedback surveys. Patients were more satisfied with the length of time in waiting and exam rooms, ability to get appointments, and the hours the public health division is open. 

"We are very pleased to receive confirmation that extending our prenatal services was a choice that impacted our patients in a positive light," commented clinical services director, Debbie Dutton. "Our staff were excited to offer these extended hours and days for this essential public health service, and they continue to be committed to providing high quality health and human services to the residents of our community." 

The pilot project has gone extremely well, feedback has been positive, and the division is pleased to announce that maternal and prenatal services will continue to be offered at the Manteo location Monday- Friday from 8:30am- 5:00 pm and at the Frisco location every other Thursday from 9:30am-3:30pm 

Internal quality improvement projects over the years have included enhanced employee orientation, streamlined policies and procedures that are more accessible to staff, a public information and marketing request system that allows instant prioritization, a new common sense performance appraisal system for employees and a culture and quality feedback survey as a tool for staff to share feedback. 

For more information on quality efforts, please contact Human Service Planner, Laura Willingham at 252.475.5079 or For more information on maternal and prenatal health or clinical services, please contact Clinical Services Director, Debbie Dutton at 252.475.9366 or 

It truly takes a team effort to implement the survey and make necessary adjustments. This photo includes many of those individuals who take part in this process. 



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