Letters to the Editor, Jan. 26, 2013

Mon, 01/28/2013 - 3:47pm

To: the Editor —

The brouhaha still sputtering over the harsh treatment meted out by the Medical Center’s board of directors to Monty Stover once again reminds me how often our small-town issues can be viewed as microcosms of the nation’s broader concerns. Whatever one’s take may be on the Affordable Care Act and Stover’s abrupt removal as BIHS director, there can be little debate that the common denominator of both is money — how money is spent and where it is coming from. If the balance sheet for the Medical Center had been entirely healthy, I doubt whether Monty would have been removed. Whether “healthy” was humanly possible under the organizational set-up of the Medical Center in face of changing demands is quite another question.

As explained to me recently by its first Executive Director, Nancy Greenaway, the Medical Center came into being in response to the old system of medical care on the island: a doctor working under contract to the town, whose office and living quarters were in the same antiquated town-owned building that boasted little more in the way of modern equipment than a failing X-ray machine. He managed his own billing. This arrangement simply no longer met the island’s growing requirements.

Thus, Block Island Health Services was born. It was intentionally set up as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization separate from the town, with its own board of directors. The strategy for this was partly to immunize Block Island taxpayers from ruinous lawsuits — something those advocating the town’s taking a greater interest in the running of BIHS might better consider. It was also deemed that private donations to a tax-free organization would be a better way to fund the project than through seeking government grants and floating bonds. Under this umbrella the new building was constructed next to the old one on land owned by the town. Funding at the time and in the future depended heavily on private donations. Now, once again, it would seem that the old arrangement will not hold.

I doubt if even the most hide-bound Republican — well, perhaps Michele Bachmann — would argue against the principle that all Americans should have access to health care. Likewise, here on Block Island, despite the evidence that many voyage to the mainland to see a doctor, who could argue persuasively that we should close the Medical Center? The point where argument begins in both cases is how much health care and from whence the money to pay for it should come.

Wrangle as they will in Washington, on Block Island the solution is clear, at least to this correspondent. When making up budgets this winter — for the Medical Center and for the town — we are simply going to have to allocate more of our taxes to the Medical Center, and trim elsewhere if necessary. Last year the budgeted amount BIHS received from the town was just $86,000. This is less than we spent for the Early Learning program ($91,000). It is a mere one-seventh of the police budget and one-fifth of our support for the library — all worthy causes, but no more so than health care. Finally consider this: even after the income from the various activities it sponsors is deducted, the Recreation Department receives nearly twice what the town allocates for health care.

So… where should we make our more serious financial commitment, to more police presence in the bars downtown during the summer, to organic fertilizer for Heinz Field, or to a solidly funded and financially healthy Medical Center?

P.S. Wood

Old Mill Road

To: the Editor —

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the hurricane relief drive last month for our new friends on Staten Island. Despite very short notice, the people of Block Island showed their concern and generosity for those in time of need. The food and clothing and especially the toys brought great joy and refreshment to many people when they needed it most. Special thanks to Kay McManus, the Block Island Ladies Auxiliary, Kate McConville and the Block Island Rescue Squad, the Block Island Lions Club, Alcy Stiepock MacKay, Mary Conant, Mike Shea, and Stephanie Turaj from the Block Island Times.

Elizabeth Holmes

Ocean Ave.

Mark Emmanuelle

West Side Road

This letter was sent to Avery Kirby from the R.I. Department of Human Services, Division of Veterans Affairs, Rhode Island Veteran’s Home, and shared with the Block Island Times.

On behalf of the residents and administration of the Rhode Island Veterans Home, I would like to thank you for inventing, making and donating to us, 30 of your “Independence” trays. Your invention has helped make the lives of our veterans easier with the convenience of the “Independence” tray.

Your generosity and support is remarkable and very beneficial to the Rhode Island Veterans Home and the men and women entrusted to our care.

Thank you for thinking of our veterans.

Happy Holidays.

Pamela Dow

Supervisor of Therapeutic Activities

Special thanks to Mary D., Arnold Lumber, Tom Kirby and many others for the help and support — Avery

To: the Editor —

I have completed the online petition opposing the Deepwater Wind/Block Island transmission cable. Unless there is some greatly unanticipated event, it should not change. It will be submitted to R.I Coastal Resources Management Council and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on February 2 and February 8 respectively. Please go to the News and Events section of entech-engineering.com to access the petition and place your signature and comments if this project is of concern.

Christopher Warfel

High Street