Dr. Walter Holton, family physician in Manteo for more than 34 years, is partnering with The Outer Banks Hospital in a move that will ensure that the Roanoke Island and Mainland communities of Dare County will continue to have quality medical services for years to come.
“I will continue to see patients here in Manteo as I have for these many years,” commented Holton. “Joining with the Outer Banks Hospital provides me with the peace of mind in knowing that whenever I do make that decision to retire, quality medical services will continue to be here for our patients and for the people of our community. I am confident that this association will provide full-service care, with better continuity for our patients.”
“Dr. Holton represents all that is best about a sole family practitioner: he is there for his patients,” said Van Smith, Outer Banks Hospital President. “We are honored that he has chosen to partner with us.” Holton will remain as the lead physician at Dare Medical Associates as the hospital assumes much of the behind-the-scenes operations. “It’s a win-win,” said Smith. “Dr. Holton will have more time to devote to his patients and the hospital will expand its presence on Roanoke Island.”
Thirty-four years ago, with the departure of the Outer Banks’ only doctor, pharmacist Keith Fearing and a group of local leaders launched a crusade to bring another physician to Roanoke Island. Fearing and his group touched base with many teaching hospitals, including the Family Practice Program at Hershey, Pennsylvania, Medical Center. Dr. Holton, a resident at the hospital, and Dr. Bob Bauer, a teaching physician, agreed to open practice in Manteo. Two years later, Dr. Bauer retired; Dr. Holton stayed and has been here ever since.
Holton, a native of Edenton, completed his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, and after a tour in the Navy, received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Duke University. In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Holton has served on the Dare County Board of Education for the past 10 years and currently is the Vice-Chairman.
In the early 1980’s, Holton moved his practice from the Memorial Clinic in Manteo and opened the Dare Medical Associates offices on US-64 on the outskirts of town.
Over the years, Holton has treated thousands of patients and has seen the area’s population grow from a few “beach boxes” to a thriving year-round community and tourist destination. “Today, when I shop on the beach, I see a lot of people I don’t know. It used to be that the tourism crowds were gone after Labor Day and everybody knew everybody who lived here year-round.”
The Outer Banks has changed. Gone are the days when sick patients slept on the floor of his office during hurricanes. “I couldn’t always help them,” said Holton. “But just knowing I was here gave them some comfort.” Gone too are the days where there were no ambulances in Dare County and patients were transported in converted station wagons to the hospital in Elizabeth City or in Virginia.
As the population for the area grew, so too did the need for more services, including a 19-bed critical access hospital…The Outer Banks Hospital…which opened in 2002. “Quite frankly, I didn’t believe it was possible to have the level and quality of care at such a small hospital,” said Holton. Over the years, Holton evaluated the care delivered by The Outer Banks Hospital and has remained continually impressed by the services offered there.
“That’s what convinced me,” he added, “the hospital’s excellent care. The Hospital can, and will, deliver the quality care that I want my patients to always have.” And so, as he approached his 35th year in Dare County, Holton made a decision to affiliate with the hospital, which would allow him to remain active while ensuring the future of Dare Medical Associates.