Currently, one in six Island residents is over the age of 65. By 2030, the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts expects that number to double.

And that means Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard — which holds its annual Summer Soiree fundraiser Monday at Farm Neck Golf Club — is more extended than ever.

“We’ve had a marked increase in our census, and that’s because we are rapidly aging here on the Island,” hospice executive director Tom Hallahan said this week. “And with the aging process, you have death and end-of-life care.”

The Vineyard hospice is one of only a handful of non-Medicare hospice facilities in the country. Hospices that take insurance require that patients have a medical diagnosis of six months or less to live. Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard has no requirements and does not turn anyone away.

Tom Hallahan, executive director of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“We choose not to be a Medicare certified hospice because it allows residents the luxury and flexibility of contacting us when they think they need hospice services,” Mr. Hallahan said. “We have people that contact us that may have less than six months, but they also may have a year or more.”

The original provider of end-of-life care on the Island, Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard dates to 1981. Today there are two hospice programs on the Island; the second one is Hope Hospice, a Medicare program. The two programs work together closely, Mr. Hallahan said.

But with increased patient load, he said his 10-person staff is under pressure. Along with patient care, hospice provides bereavement and grief counseling services, and Mr. Hallahan said with alcohol-related deaths, drug overdoses and suicides now part of the mix, demand is on the rise for those services too.

Now there is concern that Hospice may have outgrown its space at the Tisbury Marketplace. Mr. Hallahan said the while the light-filled building overlooking the Lagoon Pond strikes the perfect spiritual tone, it has become cramped.

“Because our staff has increased, and because our patient load has increased, we are compromised with our space here,” he said. There’s only room for one therapist to work at a time, multiple nurses can’t make calls, and the facility lacks space for an in-house respite bed, something Mr. Hallahan envisions for the future.

“People need to enter in a confidential space and feel safe, and we’re finding that it’s becoming hard to do,” Mr. Hallahan said. “It used to be we increased a patient or two, but now we increased 10 or 12, and it was like, whoa.”

As a result, Mr. Hallahan said hospice board members have begun early discussion about a capital campaign and may look for a new building or land to build on in the near future.

Meanwhile, the Summer Soiree, an event that raises about a quarter of the annual operating budget of about $700,000, is Monday. V. Jaime Hamlin catering will provide dinner for the approximately 300 guests made with food donated by Larsen’s, The Net Result and Cronig’s, along with liquor from Our Market. Guests will have the chance to participate in both a silent and live auction with Lenny Clarke.“People really go up-and-beyond for us,” Mr. Hallahah said. “We’re pretty lucky.”

The Hospice annual Summer Soiree begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Farm Neck. Tickets cost $200 and can be purchased online at or by calling 508-693-0189.