Dear fellow residents of Martha’s Vineyard:
How decisions are made about our hospital; how it responds to our health needs; and how it listens to and communicates with Island residents are current topics of conversation among Island residents. There have been more than 700 thoughtful statements, letters, and comments on social media, in a petition to the hospital’s board and in local and regional newspapers since June of this year. The public concerns are longstanding and were revived by the abrupt firing of a new CEO, the closing of Wildflower Court, and the hospital’s lack of clear communication with residents. The conversations indicate that residents are losing confidence in the hospital board of directors’ decisions and choices.
Who we are:
MVH Concerned Citizens is an ad hoc group of Island residents who spontaneously came together after reading an open letter to the editor written by Island resident Alan Brigish. We do not suggest that we represent all Island residents. However, we have heard from many who share these concerns. Among our members are people with hospital, public health, government health, health insurance, legal, business, philanthropic, communication, and patient experience. As do all residents, we depend on and appreciate the commitment of our neighbors and friends who work at our hospital and strive to provide the highest quality care to our families, friends, and neighbors.
What we want:
First and foremost, we want MV Hospital to succeed. That means it has staff at all levels, and tools and resources to provide the direct care and support needed to care for trauma and ill health when needed. We believe our hospital currently delivers high-quality care and encourage all to continue to support that critical work.
In addition, we want our hospital to understand and begin to address the health needs of current and future residents that do not require the emergency department, inpatient beds, or doctor office visits.
Specifically, this means a hospital board and leadership that:
- creates the opportunities to listen and respond to residents;
- shares information about its finances and future direction;
- engages in community meetings focused on issues such as aging in-place, substance use disorders, home health needs, healthy eating and physical activity, health choices for our children, and alternative approaches to well being;
- renews itself by adding new members from the community as board and committee terms expire; and
- is clear about the role that Mass General Hospital plays in our hospital’s decision making, management, and community involvement.
What we can do:
We have had two formal meetings with hospital board and management members, on July 15 and Aug. 25 , and several other one-on-one conversations with hospital leaders. In our meetings and conversations we made the following suggestions and offers of assistance:
- We have asked that the hospital board and management listen to the concerns of residents;
- We have asked that the hospital board and management inform residents of the content of the draft strategic plan; criteria for selection of new leadership; and changes in board composition and policies;
- We have offered to work directly with hospital staff and/or board to plan community forums that would give residents an opportunity for input into planning for board changes, strategic future directions, and new executive leadership;
- We have offered to work directly with hospital staff and/or the board to conduct a resident survey, modeled on the successful “Healthy Aging Survey,” to obtain resident thoughts about how and who governs the hospital; its future direction, and its leadership;
- We have asked that the search for a new CEO and potential changes in the hospital board be guided by a strategic plan that includes resident ideas.
While the board and management asked for advice from some community agencies, the ideas of citizen residents have not been recognized. Our offers of assistance to hear the resident voice have received no direct reply beyond the Sept. 5 Open Letter to the Community that discussed the retention of consultants to assist with hospital governance, strategic direction, and CEO leadership.
Our hospital’s future is too important to ignore. That future is being guided today by the work of consultants who are developing board policies, developing a strategic plan, and searching for a new CEO. Your ideas and concerns are essential to MVH meeting your needs. We expect that our hospital board and management understand and act on the critical role that effective two-way communication and resident ideas have in assuring the success of a hospital and health system that our Island deserves.
In the near future we plan to conduct a brief survey to gauge resident interest in open public meetings to discuss your interest in resident ideas about our hospital’s future.
We look forward to your thoughts,
MVH Concerned Citizens Committee
Victor Capoccia and Sheila Shapiro, co-chairs, and Sam Feldman, Gerald Jones, Bruce Bullen, Frederick Rundlet, A.C.H.E., Paddy Moore, Marina Lent, Alan Brigish, Douglas Ruskin, and Len Morris