Letters to the Editor, Jan. 5, 2013

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 3:19pm

To: the Editor —

After seeing another letter with numerous distortions aimed at the board of the Block Island Health Services in the December 22 Block Island Times, I was tempted to write a long rebuttal, but decided it would be better to concentrate on going forward. The board has agreed, in the pending management agreement, to follow the state’s open meeting law. It has selected a highly qualified professional, Barbara Baldwin, to be its new executive director, and I expect her relationship with the board will be a harmonious one.

There are two areas of misinformation that should be mentioned: the first relates to the Lights of Love mailing. All solicitation letters went out using the renewed non-profit permit which had been allowed to lapse three years ago. Nothing went out with first class postage. The board “stuffed” no envelopes. That service was provided by the printing company. The other relates to “micromanagement." I have not encountered this in my nearly six months as director. On the other hand, board members, especially Kay Lewis, have been critical to reconstructing the donor and membership lists, and retrieving and compiling copies of minutes of meetings for the past four years, all of which were not available or incomplete. It has been great to have an involved board, ready to work, asking questions and making suggestions.

It is time to welcome Ms. Baldwin and offer her the support of the community.

Peter B Baute,

Interim director, B.I. Medical Center

To: the Editor —

I hope it is very clear that I want the Block Island Health Services board to answer all the questions that I asked on 12/17/12. The board said they would have the answers!

To review, here are the questions I asked on 12/17, to clarify the information I’m asking for:

1. Should the Medical center be hiring an Executive Director (ED) before the contract with the town is signed? The answer I received was that they are very close to an agreement on the contract. I think that remains to be seen.

2. Should we have an accounting of BIHS’s financial condition and how they plan to improve it? We have an accounting alright and it is a very dire situation, more than $200,000 taken from the endowment, questionable fund raising, insurance reimbursement possibly lowering, electronic changes happening, contract with the town to be signed and a partnership with an agency or hospital to be found. But I haven’t had an answer to how they plan to improve their financial condition.

3. When the new director is hired will the other temporary replacements leave, i.e.; Jim Hinthorn, Pete Tweedy, and his assistant? This question was never answered fully nor were questions 4 and 5 due to time constraints. We were told that Jim Hinthorn was not a part of this new team, though he did author the ED’s job description.

4. What is the financial difference between Monty’s salary and the new ED?

5. Does the new hire have housing? If not, is BIHS to supply it?

I’m asking for the difference, not the salary! This question could include question 5 because I want the board to add up all the expenses for the new ED including salary, housing, benefits, salary for any extra staff, and any other expense entailed in this venture and tell me clearly what is the financial difference between the two salaries. Again, I don’t need to know their salaries. The board should probably factor in the lawyer costs to this total but I don’t think they will. I don’t want to hear “I don’t know” or “the information isn’t available right now!”

Maybe the board needs to know a little history going back 16 years. Monty was hired to be financial director (FD) when Nancy Greenaway found she couldn’t do both jobs. He functioned very well in that position with no complaints from any boards. While I was on the board in the early 2000s he took over ED and FD for 6 months while the ED was on a leave of absence. Around 2005 he was asked to be interim ED and FD until the board found a new ED. After many months he was asked to take over both jobs permanently. The man was doing both jobs and keeping the Medical Center afloat. MONTY HAS EFFECTIVELY DONE TWO JOBS SINCE 2006 AND DONE THEM WELL!

Gerry Comeau

High Street

To: the Editor —

Storm drains along with road repairs are something we need to publicly discuss. During the slow season, many islanders would appreciate the work. The cars that use the roads every day and the tourists who use them in the summer would all benefit from these repairs, as well as the businesses, especially those that rent mopeds, bikes and rental cars. Even people who walk.

Everyone enjoys the aesthetic beauty of Block Island and admires how well homes and businesses are kept up. Our roads should not be a deplorable sight to see. We are capable of better.

Yes, repairs cost money. Private fundraising is an option. I will be happy to work on a project that will benefit so many people. There are probably more people who feel the same way. Together with the Town Council and others who have this responsibility, this worthwhile goal can be accomplished.

What are we waiting for? Disrepair gets worse before it gets better until something is done about it.

Cheryle Gagnon

West Side Road

To: the Editor—

The island has truly lost someone special with the passing of Ann Cunningham on December 21. Although many knew her for far longer than my husband Fred and I, no one could have cherished the friendship more. From the time we bought our place “on the hill” 16 years ago she took us under her wing. She helped us navigate the challenges of island home ownership, kept us calm during crises and was always there when we needed anything: a missing ingredient, flashlight batteries, a hammer — you name it.

Ann was a highly educated woman and extremely intelligent.She had a distinguished career in the scientific arena, retiring from Pfizer Pharmaceutical. She had the unique ability to explain complex scientific concepts in a way that the average person could easily understand. She lent her expertise as a volunteer on the Water Commission on the island.

Despite her many medical issues she remained positive and felt that there was always someone worse off. She was always there to listen to the problems of others and seldom did she burden others with her own. I sought her advice many times with personal issues and she helped me put things in perspective and realize that things usually turn out all right. But Ann, this time things are not all right — we have lost a dear friend and our hearts are broken. We are grateful to have known you.

Amy Knous

Sunset Hill Road and Portland, Conn.