To the Editor:
I was disappointed to learn this week of the unceremonious departure from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital of Ken Chisholm, director of human resources and longtime administrator of Windemere nursing home.
I met Ken in 2002, soon after he arrived on the Island from the North Shore Medical Center, an institution with more than 5,500 employees, where he was senior vice president of human resources. In 2004, Ken agreed to step into the void created when Windemere lost the then most recent in a line of administrators and add those responsibilities to his portfolio. Named administrator of the Island’s only nursing home, then awash in a sea of red ink, he helped stabilize finances and supported programs designed to train Islanders to become certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses.
Ken brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to our Island hospital, but more important, he brought a sense of compassion. I write this letter with insights gained not only as a former newsman who reported on the hospital, but as the son of a woman who was for several years a resident of Windemere.
The wonderful people who work at Windemere would regularly organize special dinners and events to brighten the lives of the residents. I often watched Ken, dressed in a suit and tie, take on the role of waiter, bartender, busboy, and host — doing whatever he could to help make every event a success. I am certain none of it was in his job description, and I suspect that many mainland nursing home administrators leave those jobs to others.
Martha’s Vineyard has been very fortunate to have a nursing home staffed by wonderful, caring people. It must not be taken for granted. The financial realities — for those entering Windemere with assets, and for those responsible for nursing home care amid state cutbacks — are grim. Still, what would happen to our community without this choice?
I do not know the circumstances surrounding Ken’s decision to leave. He had a very tough job. But in the absence of any word from the hospital, I must write to recognize his contributions.