Widely admired hospital ER director gives notice
Dr. Alan Hirshberg, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital emergency room director, submitted a letter of resignation last month to the hospital board. Under the terms of his contract he must provide six months’ notice, but depending on the ability of the hospital to find a replacement, he could leave as early as July 1.
Dr. Hirshberg is credited with raising the level and quality of emergency care at the hospital and has worked closely with the Island’s emergency responders to develop protocols for disaster response. His current contract does not expire until 2005.
Reached at the emergency room Tuesday evening, Dr. Hirshberg said that he and his family love the Vineyard. He said he was leaving for “personal and professional reasons” and did not wish to elaborate.
Dr. Hirshberg was an emergency physician at Penn State University’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at the university’s school of medicine before moving to the Vineyard in August, 1999.
Dr. Hirshberg, who had not visited the Island prior to his job interview, said he liked working in a rural setting, according to an interview published in The Times soon after he arrived with his wife Sylvie and then two-year-old son, and six-year-old daughter.
Dr. Hirshberg said he is proud of what he has accomplished and cognizant of the public furor that has accompanied the departure of other Island doctors. He said he is concerned that his departure not be accompanied by any letter writing campaign or public controversy.
“I want to transition out as easily as possible,” he said.
Dr. Hirshberg said that although his plans are not yet fixed, it is possible he will return to Hershey, Pennsylvania, where he practiced before coming to the Vineyard five years ago.
In a memo to all hospital employees dated May 6, Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, said he had “regretfully accepted” a letter of resignation.
Mr. Walsh wrote that during the last five years, “Dr. Hirshberg’s hard work and creative energy have raised the bar in the emergency room. In addition to his own exceptional talents as a physician, Alan’s efforts and commitment to our continued pursuit of excellence have been outstanding… His can-do spirit will be greatly missed. Please join with me in wishing Alan all the best in his future endeavors.”
Yesterday, Mr. Walsh said Dr. Hirshberg “is a young, outstanding doctor who has done a wonderful job.” He said it is not unusual for young doctors to leave hospitals to advance their careers.