A different side of public health: vital records

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2016

By Tykeisha Carter
Rowan County Health Department

A birth certificate is made each time a child is born to mark the moment of their arrival. Last year, about 1,600 babies were born in Rowan County.

Birth certificates are part of the vital records system. Recently, I was able to sit down and speak with Julie Bare, office assistant III, the coordinator of the vital records program at the Rowan County Health Department. After working in vital records for 17 years, two of those years have been in the Health Department, she knows a lot about the field.

Vital records at the Health Department consists of birth and death certificates. These records are first received at the Health Department. Then they’re sent up to Rowan County’s Register of Deeds and state offices in Raleigh where they are made public record.

Mrs. Bare gave me a breakdown of the process that occurs when birth and death certificates come through the Health Department. For birth certificates, when a child is born in a health facility, a doctor will sign off on the document and send it in. For home births, individuals can generate a birth certificate at the Health Department by completing the appropriate paper work. Mrs. Bare holds certificates for 24 hours in case any corrections need to be made, then she sends it off to the Register of Deeds and the state. If changes are needed after a certificate is public record, an amendment must be made, which is a longer process.

Death certificates go through the same process, except a doctor or medical examiner will write the cause of death before sending the form in. The funeral home that takes possession of the body will send Mrs. Bare a notification within 24 hours. Mrs. Bare must file the certificate with the Register of Deeds within seven days of that notification. However, there is a 24-hour hold on processing and transmitting death certificates to the Register of Deeds Office. This hold is to allow clerks to have more time to look for errors, which will reduce the need for corrections to certified copies.

Death certificates are filed with the Register of Deeds daily and a report is sent to the state weekly. The county Register of Deeds is responsible for the integrity, accuracy and safekeeping of Rowan County’s public records. Birth certificates are filed with the state offices and the Register of Deeds at the same time. Certified copies of certificates can be picked up at the county Register of Deeds once the files are made public record. Copies are not distributed by the Health Department.

One thing that most people don’t know is, when an individual passes away, their death certificate is filed wherever they expired instead of in the county where the individual resided. Mrs. Bare has built a good relationship with the Rowan County funeral homes and those that are outside of the county while working in Vital Records. Mrs. Bare was willing to share a couple pieces of interesting tidbits that have occurred over the last two years in the Vital Records Program:

  1. The Health Department receives around 15-20 birth certificates per week but Mrs. Bare has only seen one set of triplets in the past two years.
  2. Bare often sees an increase in death certificates during the holidays, so remember to be careful during those times of celebration.

When asked about her time working in Vital Records, Mrs. Bare states that she has truly enjoyed her experience at the Health Department and loves the job she does.

The Rowan County Health Department is located at 1811 E. Innes St. If you should have further questions or want to make an appointment for any of the available services, please call 704-216-8777, Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (except holidays). The department offers prenatal services, pediatric dental care, WIC, immunizations, community health education, family planning, family health services, care management and environmental health.


The Rowan County Register of Deeds is located at 402 N. Main St. For more information, please call 704-216-8626, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (except holidays).

Tykeisha Carter is an intern at the Rowan County Health Department.