The Vineyard Nursing Association, the only Island-owned home health care agency, closed its doors on Tuesday, March 11. The Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod will now assume care of Vineyard patients.
“We’re pleased the VNA of Cape Cod is providing the service and the transition is going smoothly,” said Robert Tonti, chief executive officer for the Vineyard group. “All patients are covered and from that perspective it’s a success.”
Mr. Tonti said representatives from the Cape Cod group have been here since Friday working with VNA employees to oversee the transition. The VNA building will likely be sold, Mr. Tonti said. The new group is looking for a new location for an office, most likely in Vineyard Haven.
The VNA announced in January it had signed an agreement to sell its operations to Cape Cod Health Care, a large consortium which owns the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod. The VNA is the sole Medicare-certified home health care agency on the Vineyard and also operates on Nantucket.
Late last year, VNA leaders announced that the agency was facing serious financial hardship and was on track to end the year with a large operating loss. Cost-cutting measures went into effect in late November.
VNA receives a mix of funding from Medicare, private insurance and private pay, the elder service program and the Island boards of health. The boards of health contracts with the VNA for about $120,000 worth of services that include blood pressure clinics, health screenings and public health consults.
Cape Cod Health Care also owns the Cape Cod and Falmouth hospitals and a group of health centers across the Cape. It has more than 450 physicians and 4,600 employees.
In a statement issued Tuesday, VNA board chairman Michael Goldsmith said patient care will be continuous during the transition.
“Patients will see a seamless delivery of care,” he said. “In fact, aside from a nametag with a different company name, there should be no noticeable changes to patients. Cape Cod will rely on the professional and para-professional staff formerly employed by the VNA to carry out care.”
All patients have been informed about the closing, the press release said. The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will be referring all patients to the Cape Cod VNA as of Wednesday.
However, at an all-Island boards of health meeting on Tuesday morning with Cape Cod VNA public health and wellness manager Mary Devlin, boards of health agents said the immediate management shift was a surprise.
“I was totally shocked,” said Oak Bluffs health agent Shirley Fauteaux.
Edgartown health agent Matt Poole said after the meeting that the boards of health were expecting a smoother transfer. He said they were notified on Friday by the VNA of the Tuesday changeover.
“We could have been left without service,” Mr. Poole said.