Survey: More hospital transparency needed

In wake of CEO firing, community still has healthy amount of questions.

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Martha's Vineyard Hospital is trying to move ahead, but survey results show the community has unanswered questions. — Photo by Elie Jordi

Updated Nov. 20

A group known as Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Concerned Citizens have released the results of a survey that shows questions about leadership of the hospital in the wake of the firing of CEO Joe Woodin.

The group’s survey reached more than 500 people, which represents more than 9 percent of all Island families, Victor Capoccia, co-chairman of the concerned citizens group, said. The survey focused on whether respondents are interested in an open meeting with the hospital leadership, and if so, what topics should be discussed.

“It confirms what we’ve been hearing less formally through people,” Mr. Capoccia said, noting that he hears from people at other committees, and even shopping at local stores. “They say, ‘We’re glad for what you’re doing.’ I want to emphasize none of this about is taking the hospital apart. It’s about an appreciation on the Island that there needs to be input and voices heard that haven’t been heard.”

According to the survey results, 78.5 percent of those surveyed said they would be interested in attending a public meeting to discuss the future direction of the hospital. Of those who answered no, the vast majority cited childcare, transportation, and other issues standing the way of participating. Only 10 percent said a meeting is either unnecessary or none of the public’s business, according to the results.

Survey results also indicate the vast majority of those responding want to know more about the hospital’s board of directors, and what are the interests represented by those board members. How board members are chosen, and community involvement in the hospital’s future, were also indicated.

“The overwhelming tone of residents from survey comments, as well as informal comments to (concerned citizen) members, is one of frustration with hospital board leadership,” according to the survey results. “There is an erosion of confidence in the hospital board on the Island.”

Just 30 percent of those responding want answers about the departure of Mr. Woodin, according to the results.

When the survey was announced, interim hospital CEO Tim Walsh said one of the things hospital administration is concerned about in holding a public forum is questions about Mr. Woodin while a separation agreement was still being ironed out.

On Monday, Mr. Walsh said that remains a valid concern, as Mr. Woodin and the hospital have not come to terms. The hospital has held two meetings with smaller handpicked groups, and also held a forum with Dukes County Health Council, he said. Future meetings could include the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, and the hospital has asked for a list of names from the concerned citizens group, Mr. Walsh said.

“The meetings have been well received, and we’ve had great conversation,” Mr. Walsh said. “We talked a lot about Windemere and problems we’re having there. It was good to talk to people.”

One of the things they’ve heard over and over is that these issues are community issues, not just hospital issues. “We’re going slowly but surely,” Mr. Walsh said. “We find it more effective to meet with smaller groups than a wide-open forum.”

Mr. Capoccia called those small meetings a good start. “One of the things we asked is, ‘Are there opportunities for you to create that type of discussion for people you don’t invite?’” he said. “One of the things the survey said is there are a lot of people who would like to have some input.”

The committee was pleased with the volume of responses, even getting about 15 of them mailed in.

“The takeaway from the survey and from comments shared with committee members is that the community at large would like the hospital’s leadership to be more transparent and responsive,” Bruce Bullen, a member of the concerned citizens group, said, according to the press release.

Representatives of the concerned citizens group — Victor Capoccia, Sheila Shapiro, Doug Ruskin, and Maria Krokidas — shared the results Thursday with Mr. Walsh and hospital board members Timothy Sweet, John Schaefer, Anthony James, Earle Ray, Susan Crampton, and Edward Miller, according to the press release.

Other positive outcomes since the committee began meeting with hospital officials, Mr. Capoccia said, is that the hospital did a newsletter that included financial information — something that’s been missing, even from the hospital’s annual reports.

“That kind of information being put out is a good start,” he said.

Surveys were announced in advertisements, and responses were collected from Oct. 19 to Nov. 10.

There were no big surprises for the hospital in the results, Mr. Walsh said. “It’s what you’d expect given where we’ve been and what’s going on,” he said.

The hospital continues to focus on finding a replacement for Mr. Woodin. There are three finalists for the job, who Mr. Walsh declined to name. “I’m not one of them, you can say that,” said Mr. Walsh, who came out of retirement to serve as interim CEO after Mr. Woodin was fired. “Any one of [the finalists] would be good for the job.”

Updated to include comments from Timothy Walsh.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. My main question is this. In December of 1996, Tim Walsh testified before the State’s Public Health Council that 80% or more of the Board of Trustees would be Islanders. I do not consider a wealthy board member from MGH who lives in Brookline or Chestnut Hill with a Summer home on the Island an Islander. If you’re not a registered voter in Dukes County, you’re not an Islander. As of 1996, this applied to many of Tim’s “Islanders”. I wonder if it still does, or if he would swear, under oath, that it does not.

  2. Is Dr. Pil a candidate for the CEO position? If not, he should be. How do we make that happen? Dr. Pil if you are reading this, please apply. You are the best person for the job. Just ask any of his patients.

  3. He has advanced degrees and is more than qualified. Has anyone asked him if he would be interested in the position?

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