To our community and those in need of homecare:

On Wednesday, March 12, just a day before the notice went public, the Vineyard Nursing Association (VNA) learned that Martha’s Vineyard Community Services will be closing the doors of their Visiting Nurse Service (VNS) effective June 30. The news was received with concern for the patients and employees of the nursing service and was a complete surprise to our staff and board.

The purpose of this letter is to provide you, your families and loved ones with our assurance that those who need help will continue to receive care. For nearly 25 years, the Vineyard Nursing Association has been serving the Island community with top-quality homecare services. We understand our responsibility in light of this challenging situation and are absolutely committed to accommodating the patient load of the nursing service in a timely and responsible way — no matter what the cost.

Upon hearing the news of the nursing service closure, we took rapid action to begin the planning process that will enable us to enroll nursing service patients into our services beginning immediately.

This process is now under way and will be completed on or before the June 30 closure. There is much work to be done by both agencies to accommodate this difficult transition. We are working closely with the staff and administration of the nursing service to insure the home health needs of the Island are taken care of and that the impact on patients is minimized.

We are also working with the state Office of Elder Affairs to ensure that all Elder Services patients are properly transferred and with the various boards of health across the Vineyard to ensure that we can meet their needs beginning in July.

We want to reassure our existing clients that there will be no impact or interruption in the quality service that the nursing association delivers on a daily basis. The association is willing, capable and committed to serving the homecare needs of the entire Island. We will do so with a level of professionalism, personal care and quality of service that has helped build our strong reputation over the years.

We have yet to gain full clarity on the enormity of the challenges we will face as we work to take over VNS services. We anticipate that our case load will grow by approximately 50 per cent, our staffing needs will increase, training needs will increase and office space requirements will grow. Wherever possible, we will look to integrate former VNS staff into our programs. We expect significant financial consequences from these unforeseen expenses, as we strive to accommodate and serve those in need. We are perpetually thankful and appreciative of our strong donor base that helps us bridge the financial gaps created between reimbursements from Medicare or private insurance and services rendered.

Any business owner who might consider the idea of having their business grow by more than 50 per cent in a single year can understand how daunting this challenge is for the nursing association. To grow at that rate, in just over 90 days, while maintaining our high level of client service, will require an exceptional effort. There is so much to do and so very little time in which to do it — but rest assured the Vineyard Nursing Association is up to the job.

We pledge, to the Island community, that we will continue to dedicate ourselves to delivering the highest quality homecare possible, as we have for nearly 25 years. We will be working with the local papers to keep you apprised of our plans and progress as we assume the many responsibilities of the nursing service and work towards a smooth transition for all. We thank you for your continued support and hope for the very best for the caring staff of the VNS.

Michael Goldsmith is chairman of the board of the Visiting Nurse Association and Robert Tonti is chief executive officer.