Steamship needs to honor medical notes


To the Editor:

Over the course of our residency on Martha’s Vineyard, we have endured medical situations, and have always been supported by the Steamship Authority’s reservation staff and the staff at the ferry when we arrive with the appropriate doctors’ note.

This week was an unfortunate exception for us and other fellow travelers with medical notes. A member of our family had oral surgery one morning. We made it to the ferry at 11:30 am, with the attached doctor’s notes clearly indicating the need for “urgent travel, without delay … because the individual was in severe pain … failure to provide preferential boarding would create a potential for deterioration or instability, would jeopardize his/her care.”

Unfortunately, we were denied passage on the 12 pm ferry, while they loaded the standby lane. When we attempted to get information as to when we could board, we were told, “There are people that have been waiting here on standby since 4 am.”

The purpose of a doctor’s note is to indicate the NEED to get on a boat, regardless of who is waiting on standby. We surely understand waiting in standby. It is frustrating. We have all done that; it is part of our life on Martha’s Vineyard. But that is a choice, NOT a medical emergency.

The Steamship Authority staff in Falmouth was rude and unprofessional. We were told, “I’m sorry your tooth hurts,” and, “That’s your problem.” There is no need to be mean and unprofessional. However, their behavior jeopardized the health and well-being of my family member who had just undergone surgery.

I hope that the SSA administrative staff and board can work to remedy this situation. I know that our family was not the only family affected this week. Medical notes are sacred, and no staff person should make a judgment about a medical note they receive. The Steamship Authority staff’s responsibility is to provide professional and prompt passage so that people in medical distress can get the care, love, and support they need, at home.


Gina Patti
Oak Bluffs