Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing this letter in response to the Gazette’s recent article (April 10) and editorial (April 24) about insurance changes on Martha’s Vineyard.

There were several inaccuracies in these stories that need to be addressed.

Three recurring themes in these stories that I would like to discuss are:

• The hospital has not communicated its plans to Island health care consumers;

• Vineyarders will soon find themselves with virtually useless medical insurance;

• Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has determined its current insurer is not directing enough patients to its affiliated hospitals in Boston.

First, we had not communicated because we were in active negotiation with BMC Health Net (BMCHN) and didn’t know what the outcome was going to be until we concluded our negotiations. Our negotiations ended on Friday, May 1, when were unable to reach agreement. In addition to there being ongoing discussions, we were not able to comment on the enrollee status, directly contact enrollees or promote one plan over the other because our existing contract prohibits all of the above. Our effort to notify other Island agencies of a possible change was made in a collaborative way, not as a springboard for promotion of any Island agency or service.

Second, Vineyarders will not find themselves with virtually useless medical insurance. Your stories have promoted a sense of urgency and complexity that does not exist. The Commonwealth Connector is the state agency responsible for overseeing this insurance product. With a brief visit to their Web site (, one can obtain all the information needed to understand the history of the connector, the operations of the connector, the enrollment process of the connector, and all the laws, regulations, and administrative letters issued by the connector.

With regard to the enrollment process of people covered by this insurance, the connector has an open enrollment period every year. During the open enrollment period each member (e.g. each BMCHN member) will receive a customized package containing a list of all the health plans available in their service area. Each member is directed to select the health plan of their choice. To make the selection, members are asked to call Commonwealth Care customer service Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-877-623-6765. If the member prefers, they can make their selection online by going to A third option for members is to cut out the page showing their health plan options, make their selection on the page and mail it to: Commonwealth Care Customer Service, PO Box 120089, Boston, MA. 02112. If a member fails to respond to the open enrollment package, the connector will assign the member to a specific health plan available in their service area. This year’s open enrollment period will begin on May 25 and run through June 25.

Finally, the decision to end the BMC Health Net contract had to do with a variety of issues. The administrative burden of working with BMCHN (billing, referral process, etc.) was taxing on the limited resources of this small hospital; we were unable to agree on the financial arrangements, and referrals to Boston hospitals were more limited than we had anticipated when we signed the original contract. The Island’s natural referral pattern, for as long as I’ve been here, has been predominantly to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). This is understandable given that MGH is one of the premiere hospitals in the world. I think the more choices people have to select their preferred Boston hospital the better.

As always, if people have questions or need assistance with their insurance they can call the connector at the above mentioned number or they can call the hospital’s financial counseling service at 508-693-0410 extension 248.

Timothy J. Walsh

Oak Bluffs

Timothy Walsh is president and chief executive officer of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On behalf of Cape Light Compact, I would like to offer some insight on the costs allocated to build the affordable houses at 250 State Road mentioned in the May 1 article titled “Affordable Housing Backers Defend Their Cozy Contracts.”

Cape Light Compact received a $1.5 million grant from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (MRET) to “green up” housing to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes standards and install solar electric to help reduce costs for residents. The Island Housing Trust was chosen as one of nine projects throughout Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard (and 8 of 60 units) to be involved in this program.

As a result of the MRET grant, the homes built at 250 State Road are expected to be some of the most energy efficient in the state, joining other green affordable housing projects completed at Jenney Way in Edgartown and Gull’s Nest Condominiums in Provincetown.

Each house at 250 State Road will be fitted with large solar electric panels that will cover the entire roof, enabling them to attain the highest rating level in the LEED for Homes program. The MRET grant will cover $362,000 for the total cost of solar electric panels and $152,000 for achievement of LEED-H Platinum (at completion of the project).

Cape Light Compact and the MRET are committed to continued investment in the future of green building in the region and providing residents of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard the opportunity to live in well-built, affordable, energy efficient homes.

Kevin Galligan


Kevin Galligan is energy efficiency program manager for the Cape Light Compact.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It is a grave mistake to assume that anyone who opposes us is implacable, incapable of change. I believe that both this country and I can change, and are especially likely to change when others change. So then why should we blithely suppose that those who oppose us will not change if we change first?

If in fighting we kill a member of Al Qaeda or the Taliban they normally seek to replace him with another soldier; if we kill a civilian they likely replace with two soldiers, unless the civilian is a child and then they may succeed in recruiting three soldiers.

If we replace bombs with bread, they too will change.

Alden Besse

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Some time ago, the administration decided not to prosecute, and even praise, the CIA and private contract agents who brutalized and tortured prisoners in Bagram, Guantanamo and various secret “black” sites around the world in our name. It was said that they only carried out orders from above and did their patriotic duty, believing honestly that they were saving American lives.

Now we hear that those who provided the (false and criminal) legal basis for these activities are to be let off scot-free, too.

Over 60 years ago, in Nuremberg, men were hanged and shot for giving and obeying such orders. And right now, an 89-year-old Ukrainian is to be deported for a war crimes trial in Germany because when he was a Soviet prisoner of war in Germany during the war, he tried to save his skin by agreeing to become a watchman at a Nazi concentration camp. His first trial and conviction had to be thrown out due to a mix-up of identities. Now he is to be tried again as someone else for following criminal orders. Whatever he may have done, for him refusing an order would have meant certain death, while the American “interrogators” (what a euphemism!) at Guantanamo could easily have resigned and needed to have no such fears (we hope).

If it is now permissible to create false legal grounds for torture (and no matter what the tortuous official definition, inflicting pain on purpose is torture), must we not unhang and rehabilitate even the Nuremberg war criminals?

Brigitte Lent



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This past Saturday afternoon at the Yoga Barn in West Tisbury, the Martha’s Vineyard Whole Health Alliance held its annual meeting and health fair. It has been quite a few years since the alliance has undertaken a health fair and it was a well-received event. The Yoga Barn provided the sanctuary-like atmosphere, and the practitioners had a great experience working with such an enthusiastic and engaging public. For three hours 14 practitioners gave mini-treatments in chair massage, reflexology, Reiki, cold laser therapy, Healing Touch, Alexander technique, CranioSacral Therapy, neurofeedback and acupuncture; nine classes were taught in yoga, pilates, Chinese herbs, acupuncture, managing low back pain, cold laser therapy and integrative imagery, and friends and colleagues met and networked. In all, around 180 treatments were given and about 50 people sat in classes. The alliance also honored Bud Macy for his many contributions to the alliance and presented him with a book of cards and letters from alliance people he has been associated with for the past 15 years. Thanks to all who made this happen, including Rex and Scarlet Jarrell for the beautiful Yoga Barn.

And thanks to the people who made our day by coming out to relax, get a treatment, hear some healing words and enjoy the atmosphere.

Oceana Rames

Vineyard Haven

Oceana Rames is president of the Martha’s Vineyard Whole Health Alliance.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The story on the Island Food Pantry’s just-ended winter season clearly confirms what we must already know, and that is that there is a vastly increased need for assistance to the unemployed, the working poor, young families and the elderly on this Island. According to the article, food pantry visits were up 21 per cent and it served 860 people. That’s about 6 per cent of the entire population!

One group of volunteers not mentioned in the article deserves recognition for helping to address this challenge. Readers who have patronized the Island’s five supermarkets over weekends during the winter have most likely been approached by individuals handing them a 10-item shopping list and asking that they consider picking up an item for the food pantry while shopping. The response to this simple idea was overwhelming. Almost everyone contributed at least one item. Many brought back whole shopping bags full. The effort led to carload after carload of food and personal care items being delivered to the food pantry for distribution. It’s often said that this is a deeply caring community. Well this has been as heartening an example of caring and generosity as you will find.

As the article mentioned, the food pantry closed in April. While it will respond to emergencies, the day-in and day-out need for help did not end last month. So this volunteer effort will continue throughout the summer. Food and personal care items collected will be distributed through Serving Hands Distribution which will operate out of the parish house of the Baptist Church in Vineyard Haven.

The volunteers handing out shopping lists and collecting food whom you’ll see at the markets again during the summer are members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard. Kudos to these kind folks.

Jack Street

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Please give Holly Nadler highest accolades on her contributions to the Gazette.

I first enjoyed the Page Nine article on pirates, unveiling the sneaky burial of treasure on Chappaquiddick.

Then I turn the pages and Holly introduces Claire Porter who must have been exciting to watch. (I wish she’d visit Milford!)

Not ready for her roses, if I could send them, Holly again wrote about King Lear performances with outstanding clarity. Thank you Holly!

Alice W. Fredericks

Milford, Conn.


The following letter was sent to the Edgartown School student council by the trustees and friends of the Edgartown Library.

The Edgartown Library building fund greatly appreciates your effort to raise money for the library’s expansion. Your month-long penny campaign raised $108.75 which we understand was a hefty 60 pounds or so. Removing them from the plastic water jug must have been quite a task!

Your posters and announcements apparently led various classrooms to mount their own individual efforts to be added to the collection. You also raised public awareness of the library’s need for enhanced technology and more room. Won’t it be wonderful to have the children’s and young adult sections in separate areas?

With thanks for your great help.

Courtney Brady



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I’m a longtime reader and subscriber, and was spurred to write to you to congratulate you and thank you for all of the wonderful work, and also to send special praise for Peter Simon’s terrific piece, headlined Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjacks, which I loved. Hope to read more of his work, in your pages.

Andrew Blauner

New York city


The family of Nancy Leighton would like to thank the Edgartown EMTs, police, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, emergency room staff and all who took the time and love to call, send cards and flowers, prepare food and make donations to the Vineyard Animal Shelter in Nancy Leighton’s memory. We truly appreciate everything that you have all done for us at this most difficult time.

The Leightons



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I read your editorial about mothers, and even as I read it, tears formed in my eyes. When Phyllis died in 1993, my daughters told me I couldn’t understand; this year I do. Having lost both my parents in a few months’ time, this year I will join the many who reflect and think about home. Your suggestion about a handwritten note is so well taken. In their memory, I have paid for a family to have a mother’s day meal.

I want to thank you for your words, as I want to thank all the people on the Vineyard for their love.

It reminded me of a young girl walking next to a lady in a wheelchair. She looked up at me and said, “Look at my momma, isn’t she wonderful.”

Indeed she is.

Peter Sanborn

Melbourne, Fla.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to thank the people who donated to my son Frankie Williams’s fund, set up for him upon his father’s passing three years ago. You will be happy to know he has been accepted at Roger Williams College and is using the money to pursue a career in architecture. Again, I thank the community so much for contributing to his fund. God bless you all.

Donna Lyons

Summerville, S.C.