Vineyard Medical Services is sold

Vineyard Medical Services off State Road in Vineyard Haven, the Island's only walk-in clinic, is under new ownership. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Michael Loberg, a retired scientist and chairman of the Tisbury board of health, confirmed on Wednesday that he is the new owner of Vineyard Medical Services (VMS). The well-known primary and walk-in care clinic on State Road, across from Cronig’s Market in Vineyard Haven, was established in 1976 by Dr. Michael Jacobs. The new clinic will be known as Vineyard Medical Care (VMC).

Dr. Gerry Yukevich of Vineyard Haven, who has been on the VMS primary care staff for about seven years, is the new medical director, Mr. Loberg told The Times in a phone conversation yesterday.

Lena Prisco of Oak Bluffs, formerly the laboratory director and director of infection control at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, is serving as director of operations. Ms. Prisco holds a master’s degree and doctorate in pharmacology.

Mr. Loberg said that he met Dr. Jacobs, Dr. Yukevich, and Ms. Prisco while serving with them on the medical education subcommittee of the Martha’s Vineyard Boards of Health Tick Task Force.

“Between them, their job is to continue to give the same quality care that was given under Dr. Jacobs’s leadership,” Mr. Loberg said. “They’re the operations people that are going to make it happen.”

“Our first goal, from the patient’s point of view, is to ensure this is a seamless change, and we’re already doing that now,” he added.

The newly organized clinic was in operation and the first patients seen on Tuesday.

Dr. Jacobs has served as the director of the clinic for the last several years, but has not been seeing patients, Dr. Yukevich told The Times in a phone call Wednesday.

“He goes around the country, teaching wilderness medicine, which he really loves,” Dr. Yukevich said, adding that Dr. Jacobs will likely continue to serve as a consultant or advisor at the clinic.

Dr. Jacobs had been trying to sell his practice for the last several years, but had been unable to find a buyer, Dr. Yukevich said. Martha’s Vineyard Hospital expressed an interest at one time, but decided against it.

“I’m indebted to Michael Loberg for recognizing this clinic needs to be preserved,” Dr. Yukevich said. “Even though we’re going to change the name, we will be keeping the same philosophy of making walk-in care available to people without hassle, and also to maintain the same continuity of care with our patients that we have provided over the years.”

Dr. Yukevich said the clinic has plans to expand into additional areas of public health.

“There will be a research wing at this operation, primarily for tick-borne illnesses,” Dr. Yukevich explained. “We’re kind of excited about that; we’ve been hashing it out over the past six months or so.”

The deal has been in the works for some time. Mr. Loberg said he and Dr. Jacobs spoke for several months about how to preserve the legacy Dr. Jacobs had built over the years.

“It’s not only a responsibility we have to continue the service, but also an opportunity, because Dr Jacobs didn’t just build a system that can provide quality health care, but also a platform that can be used to develop many additional medical services,” Mr. Loberg said. “We don’t have a clear vision of what that might be yet, but we recognize that with the acquisition of the practice he built, we have the opportunity to do that.”

Mr. Loberg said there are immediate plans, however, to expand the clinic’s laboratory services, which he will be involved in.

Mr. Loberg retired in 2010 as a scientist with 12 years of drug development experience and 21 years of senior management experience. During his career, he served as chief executive officer of Inotek Pharmaceuticals and NitroMed, following a number of senior management positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Mr. Loberg also served as an associate professor of medicine and pharmacy at the University of Maryland. He and his wife, Melinda, a Tisbury selectman, have lived in Tisbury full-time since 1997.

“I wanted to see this important source of medical care continued on the Island,” Mr. Loberg said of his decision to buy the practice. “And it’s a way to give to the community, to give to the Island.”

The Times was unable to reach Dr. Jacobs for comment prior to deadline.