On December 5, 2012, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital (BHMH) invited members of the Deer Isle and Stonington communities to attend an informational meeting regarding healthcare services on the Island. Over 100 community members attended.
Recent focus group work was conducted to engage the community in a conversation about what healthcare services are working well as well as those services that may not be working so well. The purpose of the meeting on Wednesday was to share the results of those focus group interviews and communicate BHMH’s response to those findings. “It is critical that we seek community feedback to ensure that we are meeting the needs of those who live in the areas we serve,” explains Elizabeth Schidzick-Brunelle, Vice President of Provider Practices for BHMH. “I feel truly privileged to be working with a hospital and its’ practices who have communities that are so engaged and willing to work with us to help identify the services that are needed. I look forward to the many good things that are coming through our efforts with EMHS in the accountable care model and our development of the Patient Centered Medical Home”.
Rich Howe, BHMH Trustee and Finance Committee Chair moderated the meeting. As he introduced Ms. Schidzick-Brunelle and Greg Roraff, President and CEO, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, he conveyed to the audience that IFM is an outstanding example of a rural family practice. “Under the leadership of Dr. Charles Zelnick, it has provided innovative, community-minded, quality, compassionate care,” said Mr. Howe who went on to explain that quality of care at the clinic was never an issue raised by focus group participants.
Some of the concerns that community members expressed included access to primary care, triage (urgent care) services, a need for substance abuse counseling, and a desire for a renewed relationship between BHMH and Island Nursing Home. Elizabeth Schidzick-Brunelle outlined several improvements and changes currently taking shape at Island Family Medicine. In response to the main concern surrounding access, last month 20% more time was added to the physician’s schedules to see patients, Saturday hours (for patients of all BHMH family practice clinics) will begin at Blue Hill Family Medicine in January, and evening hours will be piloted in the spring. To address staffing concerns, Ms. Schidzick-Brunelle discussed the addition of an RN care coordinator and a new clinical assistant position and how those roles will continue to improve access challenges and preserve the high quality of care delivered at the clinic. With respect to substance abuse counseling, BHMH is finalizing arrangements to add a substance abuse counselor one day per week at IFM and has engaged Acadia Hospital in discussion to pilot a telepsych program as well.
Greg Roraff also had organizational changes to announce and relevant information to share for Island residents. Mr. Roraff stated that since November, the BHMH Emergency Department has and will be staffed exclusively by physicians, an extra step to ensure the highest quality care is received by our friends and neighbors in urgent and emergent situations. An enhanced hospitalist program was described, offering BHMH’s inpatients more consistency during hospitalization. The community members were also reminded that BHMH has recently added cardiology to its specialty practices, continues to offer OB services including pre- and postnatal care, and is home to strong orthopedic, urology, and general surgery services. With regard to the Island Nursing Home he explained, “I have never been more impressed with a nursing home. We are working on a solution to assist them with a medical director. I hope to share more very soon and certainly understand the importance of a medical director at the facility.”
A question and answer session followed the presentation and a decision was made to hold a similar meeting in six months to check on progress.