In researching the provision of health care services, I have discussed the current ability to provide services and several possibilities to increase them. I have contacted Health Care Access, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, Island Health Care and Martha’s Vineyard Hospice.

While all of these providers expressed their desire to be more inclusive in the provision of services, the major obstacle is lack of money and the difficulty of recruiting personnel due to the remoteness of the Island. Despite these problems, these service providers have attempted unique approaches to improve limited health care.

Among them are provision of scholarships to pre-med and nursing students in exchange for a two-year commitment to return to the Island and provide needed services for a period of two years, providing temporary housing for medical specialists, qualified laboratory personnel and nurses for short-term stays, hiring primary practitioners to provide services only to the hospital, thus alleviating the need to strain existing full-time practices which are unable to take on new patients.

Other ideas which have been explored: replacing visiting nursing services with a self-contained Island-only provider, attempts to provide better transportation and communication between Island and off-Island health care providers and developing a case manager to assist Islanders in navigating the systems.

All of these efforts have been unsustainable due to a lack of funding. However, a possibility exists that some of the goals can be achieved. It would require that all of the health care providers focus on a single issue, be it scholarships, housing or recruiting new practitioners.

With Islandwide support and combined fundraising, I believe that improvements are possible.

Abe Seiman
Oak Bluffs