Hospital seeks to ease summer housing crunch with inn purchase

The Thorncroft Inn on Main Street in Vineyard Haven could soon be home to summer and short term hospital medical staff. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has an agreement in place to purchase the Thorncroft Inn on Upper Main Street in Vineyard Haven. The deal is intended to help fill a need for employee housing, particularly in the summer months. It is contingent on town approval of a change in use.

Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, said the hospital must annually ramp up staff for the busy summer months and faces an ongoing challenge to rent housing for employees. It is also costly.

Mr. Walsh said the hospital spent about $850,000 on housing last year scattered among the down-Island towns. The agreed-upon price for the inn, which includes furniture, is $2,350,000.

A signed purchase and sales agreement has yet to be signed, he confirmed. The Tisbury zoning board of appeals has scheduled a hearing on May 9 to hear a hospital application for a special permit that would allow a change in the existing nonconforming use as an inn to “accommodations for visiting medical professionals.”

At the height of the summer, the hospital staff swells by approximately 65, including visiting nurses, doctors and technicians, he said. And as the hospital’s working partnerships with Mass General Hospital continue to expand, there is a need to house technicians and specialists from MGH who travel to the Vineyard on a regular basis.

As an example, he said, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is now staffed by MGH anethesiologists who rotate short-term between Boston and the Island.

Mr. Walsh said the inn is very nicely set up for the purpose and is in impeccable shape. “We expect it would save us money,” he said.

The Thorncroft Inn, which includes an annex building, has 19 rooms. Promotional material describes the inn as a secluded and elegant romantic spot in which the rooms are outfitted with private hot tubs, whirlpools, and working fireplaces. Nightly rates, depending on accommodations, are between $295 and $450 in season.