Editorial: A link to better health

Editorial: A link to better health

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The corporate link between Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), under the Partners HealthCare umbrella, has improved care to Islanders and their seasonal visitors. We report this morning that a further step in the coordination of services between the Boston teaching hospital and the Island outpost has been taken. The fruits of this partnership continue to evolve, all of them welcome additions to the health services required by Vineyarders.

This week, clinicians from the MGH Cancer Center will begin to offer medical oncology and hematology services at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. “World class, local care” is the goal, and a team of cancer specialists will attend to patients suffering from a variety of cancers.

“Patients living on the island of Martha’s Vineyard now have access to one of the finest cancer treatment programs in the United States,” Dr. David Ryan, chief of hematology/oncology and MGHCC clinical director, told The Times. “We are very pleased that our cancer providers are working together with MVH as a team to provide the highest quality care for their patients.”

Disadvantaged as we may be by geography, by the small size and seasonal variation in population and in economic good health, and by the aging demographic, health care on the Island is nevertheless enormously enhanced by the MGH-MVH partnership.

“This is the first step in increasing the complexity of services we can provide here,” MVH chief of nursing Carol Bardwell explained this week. “We will have an advanced practice nurse here for two or three days a week and an oncology physician once a month supervising the patients’ care.”

The oncology services align with the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s determination to maximize the kind and quality of services offered to Island residents at home.

“We do some limited chemotherapy here, and one of the stumbling blocks we have is we’ve not had either an advance practice nurse or a physician on the premises who really understands the drugs to the degree that they do in Boston,” Ms. Bardwell said. “And this will allow us to really expand the types of drugs that we give here, which has usually been a limiting factor for us. We want to be able to provide the maximum amount of care in the safest way and we just didn’t have that next level. This actually opens us up to all of the resources of MGH.”

An added benefit is improved coordination of care for Islanders who do need attention from MGH physicians in Boston. The goal is to make the necessary high-quality care available in the setting that is appropriate and efficient and close to home when that is possible.