Letters to the Editor, July 27, 2012

Fri, 07/27/2012 - 3:27pm

To: the Editor—

I want members of the community, patients, donors and contributing entities to know how much I appreciated the opportunity to serve you for 16 years.

How fortunate I was to be part of a medical care facility with dedicated staff, visiting specialists, volunteers, medical residents and students. I left sooner than expected because of reasons best known by the board.

Some of my accomplishments included implementation of accounting software and an in-house practice management system, acceptance of more insurances, outsourcing of billing, reconfiguration of the center’s basement with four exam rooms, the addition of a wheelchair lift, installation of medical/dental digital X-ray equipment, improvement of the Davidson House for provider housing, and nearly doubling the asset base of the corporation including medical equipment, office equipment, leasehold improvements, and other assets since 1996.

In addition, revenue streams were maintained from many sources, including more than $1 million in donations, fundraising and grants since becoming executive director with finance director responsibilities in 2006.

The logistics of providing both primary and urgent care in a remote location are complex. I sincerely hope the center finds peace and harmony in its mission to maintain quality patient care for island residents and visitors. I think the medical staff provided great service during all my years there.

Monty Stover

Old Center Road

To: the Editor—

Monday, July 16, everything changed at the Block Island Medical Center. Before 9 a.m., we learned from three board members that Monty Stover, our executive director, had left and an interim director would replace him.

This is about Monty Stover. Monty is an honest, gentle and kind man who loves the Medical Center. He worked every day, long hours, with no complaints and little thanks.

His loyalty, humility and honesty are traits we could, and should, all emulate.

He is a good friend and a great neighbor. I miss him! I wish him a great future filled with peace.

Mary Donnelly

Old Town Road

To: the Editor—

The abrupt resignation of Monty Stover reported in the Block Island Times was not a resignation. Neither was it abrupt. It has been the aim of a vicious plot by certain members of the board of the Block Island Health Services. There is barely a word to adequately describe their behavior.

Monty has worked tirelessly, put in long hours, and always had the people of Block Island in the forefront while doing what used to be two jobs. He is a decent, thoroughly honest man who has the respect of many. Monty has an aristocracy of the soul almost unmatched, a quality sadly missing in those certain board members. It is a sad day for many of us.

David Graham

Sheffield Farm

To: the Editor—

It is astonishing and amazing that “at the start” of the July 16 meeting of the Block Island Health Services, president Pam Hinthorn distributed a previously written press release before the board members were given an opportunity for discussion and to vote!

How did Kay Lewis get appointed chair of a search committee and distribute a previously prepared written plan before the board members had an opportunity for discussion and to vote?

When was the board “already primed to name interim successors” to the executive director’s position?

How did the board hire Peter Baute, the husband of a board member, to fill in as the center’s executive director before the board members were given an opportunity for discussion and to vote?

Why hasn’t the board filled the seat left vacant by the resignation of its vice-president Betty Lang?

Why hasn’t the board filled the seat left vacant by the resignation of Judy Tierney?

How did Jim Hinthorn, the husband of the president, get appointed chairman of the human resource committee at the Block Island Health Services?

It appears that this very efficient board may not have the best interests of its paying membership in mind, but rather its own agenda.

Something is rotten in Denmark! Duncan has been murdered. The storm clouds are gathering. Who will be next?

Dorothy Graham

Sheffield Farm

To: the Editor—

On Friday I read the front page news regarding the resignation of Monty Stover as Executive Director of the Block Island Medical Center. There was much in the article that puzzled me and here are some of my questions:

1. Customarily when an employee submits a resignation, there is a future date when it becomes effective to allow an orderly transition for a successor to be hired and trained. I find it difficult to believe that in the middle of the busy season, Monty would choose to leave immediately, because I know how deeply he cares about the Medical Center. I agree with Mary Donnelly’s comment, “What’s the hurry?”

2. We now have a person in charge who is the husband of a board member, not a healthy situation in any circumstance. In this case it is particularly bothersome, as the new interim director serves on the Town Council. Could there be anything worse? What a conflict of interest this poses, since the Town of New Shoreham owns the land under the medical building, plus allocating a substantial yearly sum of money to the Medical Center, approved by the electors at Financial Town Meeting in May.

3. I believe we are owed an explanation and I look forward to the Medical Center Board of Directors providing it!

Edith L Blane

Corn Neck Road

To: the Editor—

As dues paying members, financial supporters and patients of the Block Island Medical Center, we were extremely saddened and disturbed by Monty Stover’s resignation. Knowing Monty’s dedication to his position and his community, we have a difficult time believing it was voluntary.

Living on Payne Road and driving and walking by the Medical Center on a daily basis, most days we have seen Monty’s car parked in its usual spot early in the morning and late in the afternoon, sometimes into the early evening. We often wondered if there was a friendly competition between Monty and Linda Closter to see who could get there the earliest and leave the latest.

Monty Stover’s work ethic and knowledge of his profession is undeniable. He is a year-round islander, family man and outstanding member of our community. Monty has the unequivocal support of Mary Donnelly, Linda Closter and Dr. Jan Miller, the three people most knowledgeable of and dedicated to the health needs of Block Island. Very strong credentials, indeed, to be executive director of the Block Island Medical Center.

Blake and Michele Phelan

Payne Road

To: the Editor—

Oh, the mid-summer peace has finally broken here on the island. The invisible dark hammer of the night has struck again with another victim, this time Monty Stover, the executive director of the medical center. The Block Island Health Services Board of Directors accepted his resignation on July 17 — yeah, sure, but did they tell him?

I don’t know Monty, he is no friend of mine, maybe I have talked to him once in my life. I know the center is in financial trouble and slowly sinking into fiscal destitution, but is it all Monty’s fault? Absolutely not. Does he have to be the fall guy? Absolutely yes. But isn’t there a better way than the dark hammer of gloom? This hammer has been falling on prestigious people out here for years, on priests and men and women of the cloth, on the chief of police some years ago, on doctors or anyone that somehow doesn’t fit the bill any longer. Whose bill is it, anyway?

Let’s just take the center and all its problems. Probably too many on the payroll, possibly an office or two with occupants receiving either state or federal funds but have no particular function. This medical center needs a good nurse, and has one; needs a good doctor and has one; has an excellent nurse practitioner acting as a doctor and does very well at it. One of these individuals should be in charge of everything. The center needs a few ancillary employees, and has those.

What it doesn’t need is a Medical Board of Directors, and a Block Island Health Services Committee, and 1000 members that can vote and confuse every issue. It doesn’t need a town councilman now acting as executive director, Dr. Baute, in a terrible conflict of interest, with his wife also a member of the Block Island Health Services Board, working as a tag team.

I worked at the medical center years ago, but for only a short time over a period of a few years, filling in when there was no doctor available. Even then, a so-called medical commission was in charge enough that I treated people only at my home to get away from them, finally quitting altogether when a full time doctor became available. The medical commission finally drove him out after serving this island faithfully for a significant number of years. It was that midnight hammer of doom even then.

Leave this medical center to those that work it, without all the outside influence. Did anyone ask Linda Closter what she thought about this hammer of doom decision?

John Willis MD

Beacon Hollow Farm

To: the Editor—

We are completely confused and appalled by the recent “resignation” of Monty Stover as executive director of the Block Island Medical Center. We have a very hard time believing his sudden “resignation” is voluntary, and cannot help but wonder why the elected Block Island Health Services Board would choose to treat a loyal, hardworking and highly qualified colleague this way.

As noted by the article in the July 20 BI Times, Monty has worked for the B.I. Medical Center for 16 years, and has doubled his work by filling two roles for the past seven years, working 60 to 80 hour weeks for one very modest salary. He has tirelessly led fundraising efforts, upgraded systems, equipment and infrastructure, and always been committed to keeping health care on Block Island accessible and affordable for us all.

All of us who work, live and commit to the Block Island community are aware that our lives and jobs out here are dependent on the connected workings and cooperation of the community as a whole. The Stovers have been placed under incredible personal and economic stress by the loss of Monty’s job. How would any of us cope in the same situation? Monty is currently behaving as the professional, mature and discrete man he has always been, by refusing to discuss the details of his issues with the Block Island Health Services Board. Those of us who know and trust Monty as an intelligent, loyal and hardworking community member must keep asking for an explanation of why and how this situation got so out of hand, and why working together toward a common vision and goal was not an option.

Susan and Peter Gibbons

Center Road

To: the Editor—

I have known Monty and Mary Stover for 20 years. Mary and I have worked in real estate for a number of those years. Prior to that I did my residency as a Family Nurse Practioner at BIHS for two summers. Years later I joined the Board of the BIHS but after a short time I was unable to make the 4 p.m. meetings on a Thursday and resigned.

I am completely astonished and disbelieving that Monty Stover resigned in a flash as Director of Block Island Health Services. A here-today-gone-tomorrow action is no more Monty Stover than I am Batwoman!

There are 1,000 people on Block Island who live and work here. They are the residents of the island and some have lived here their entire lives and some are second or third generation. There are as many active supporters, of whom many are “cottagers” (sometime residents). Everyone pays taxes, owns something and supports the BIHS especially their services and fundraisers. I have questions that I think in the best interests of the community and the continued viability of BIHS must be answered.

Who are the members of the board of directors and what is their mission statement?

Why weren’t the members of BIHS informed in a timely manner to cast their vote for the director leaving?

Did all the board members have anything to do with Monty Stover leaving and not informing the members of BIHS?

After 16 years, if he resigned and left, why was it so abrupt and secretive? He has done a fantastic job! Shouldn’t the notice of his resignation include the date of a retirement party given by the board and the membership for his dedicated and tireless efforts at the helm of BIHS? Shouldn’t he still retain a position of consulting for BIHS?

What does the medical staff — Mary Donnelly, Linda Closter, Dr. Janice Miller — think? They have been there for far longer than the board. Were they consulted?

What do the visiting specialists think? Were they consulted?

Did they all agree Monty should leave?

More importantly did they know?

How was Peter Baute appointed interim director when he is a Town Council member (conflict of interest) and his wife Cindy is a member of the BIHS board?

The Block Island Health Services is the heart of the island. It is in the business of life and death. No other business on this island claims that very serious and very necessary mission. Every single person who is associated with this island needs to support an investigation of exactly what is going on. No one can afford to have something like this happen to our heart without finding out why. The BIHS Board Members need to have a public meeting now and answer.

Kathleen Saxon

Corn Neck Road

To: the Editor—

I cannot fathom what could have possessed the board to relieve Monty of his duties. We know he didn’t resign — not with such an abrupt decision by the board that one employee wondered what has happened so fast. Rumor has it that he was escorted to his car.

I can only tell you that I worked with Monty for three years while I was a board member during tougher times than these. We bought the Thomas house after stressful and contentious dealings. We had to deal with a serious staff problem that had us meeting every few days for a long while. Monty was interim director for six months and during this time he kept a cool head and a firm hand on his work while he carried out his jobs as finance director and interim director. He was always there when the board or the staff needed him. We continued to have financial problems and did the best we could with fund raising, grant writing, past due collections and asking the town for money.

I have nothing against the two people that are replacing Monty, but has anyone noticed that it will take two people to replace him? Also, the interim director is the husband of a board member. That situation was reversed in my time on the board — yes, the same husband was a staff member and the board wouldn’t allow the same wife to run for the board. Nepotism! How times have changed!

My heart goes out to Monty and his family and I am truly sorry that some kind of politics has cost him his job.

Gerry Comeau

High Street

To: the Editor—

Monty Stover’s excellence as a grant writer provided the Medical Center with a wheelchair lift, new digital X-ray machines and modernized facilities. During his tenure there was no malpractice claim ever paid against the Medical Center, an unheard of result these days. Monty was a diligent fundraiser, a talent which has escaped the present board. Monty worked 50 to 70 hours a week in filling his dual positions.

Not only has he fulfilled these responsibilities, but he has done so in the face of extensive and unnecessary micromanaging by the board. The board has rewarded him for his efforts by ambushing him and summarily escorting him out the front door like a common criminal. There was no retirement party, no acknowledgment of his fine service to the community and no attempt to use the occasion as a fundraiser. Such treatment is unconscionable, unfeeling, beneath the dignity of the board and reprehensible by contemporary standards, particularly since Monty is 62 and ineligible for Medicare benefits until 65.

Not only has the board embarrassed itself by its shabby treatment of a loyal employee, but it has created a gross conflict of interest by filling Monty’s post with the husband of a board member. The new director is also a member of the Town Council, which is a major supporter and oversees the Medical Center. The board is now supposed to oversee the actions of the director while his wife serves on the very same board. This ludicrous situation is exacerbated by having the director supervise himself as a member of the Town Council.

In view of the board’s poor judgment in handling these issues, how are we to trust them in dealing with a mainland company, Thundermist, in managing the Medical Center’s affairs and providing medical services to the island? I can only imagine how the board’s performance has adversely impacted the morale of the staff of the Medical Center, who care very much for Monty and have worked so hard for him over the years.

The board must be held accountable for its actions, which have disrupted the lives of the staff in the middle of their busiest season and compromised the stability of the Medical Center.

Peter Saxon

Corn Neck Road

To: the Editor—

I am writing to express my distress at losing Monty Stover from the helm of the Medical Center. Being in the intimate position of being his wife’s business partner, I know first hand of Monty’s tireless devotion and long hours of preparation for what seemed to be endless Medical Services meetings. Saturday morning after Saturday morning, leaving the house early to prepare for more meetings. Sundays at home, working tirelessly on his computer when he should have felt comfortable spending time at the beach with his new granddaughter. Working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day because he was carrying the weight of two jobs.

His good humor and loyalty, his kindness and ability to understand and cater to his board and to the people of Block Island, endless fundraising and good will — these were his gift to the community. He thanked every contributor with a warm handshake and his friendly smile. The face of the Medical Center is important to both community members and those who visit the island, and he will be sorely missed, as will the numerous connections he made on the state level. It will be virtually impossible to replace him, as the medical board is about to find out.

Although at this point the events surrounding his departure from the medical center are in question, my wish for Monty is peace and much deserved time with family and friends, and I am proud to count myself as one of the lucky ones!

Nancy Pike

Cooneymus Road

To: the Editor—

We join our friends and neighbors in thanking Monty Stover for his outstanding work as executive director of the Block Island Medical Center.

We were fortunate to have a person of Monty’s caliber at the helm of this essential community resource. As we all know, providing quality health care is a huge challenge in a small, geographically isolated community. Monty responded to that challenge with energy and intelligence, working with individuals, businesses and government partners to develop solutions.

Monty ran the center on an extremely tight budget while actively seeking to increase permanent resources.

We are grateful for Monty’s leadership. He will be sorely missed.

Phoebe Salten

Merrill Weingrod

To: the Editor—

I am writing in response to the July 15 article “Post-4th partying, like the holiday, was under control.”

I was among the organizers of “Mohegan Bash,” and we are not the troublemaking, irresponsible group that trashed the beach under the Surf Hotel and caused chaos last year in Block Island on July 4th; we fully oppose such careless behavior, which also occurred on the beaches of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. We are responsible, environmentally conscious adults who have been getting together under the scenic Mohegan Bluffs for the last 14 years — and there has never been one incident.

During this time we have introduced many other responsible adults to Block Island, and many of them come back annually, visit during the year, and several (over a dozen) have even gotten married on the island — and now return with their own families. This is why my friends and I take the initiative every year to clean the beach the day before our event, by removing all humanly created garbage, leftover cigarette butts, seaweed, and other garbage which washed up on shore. My parents taught me the importance of leaving a place in better condition than we encountered it. The location was carefully selected in a manner not to disturb others and to be far enough off the beaten path where it does not draw others who are not familiar with our group’s event, and the whole area around the Mohegan Bluffs is left clean and spotless.

The article is accurate in portraying the event as well organized, as we spend significant time planning all logistics of the event to ensure success with a controlled and safe environment. We focus on having enough heavy contractor type garbage bags, properly disposing of the garbage, ensuring sufficient water and sun block for anyone who might have forgotten those necessities during that day. We have friends in attendance who are medical doctors, EMTs, police officers, security managers from regional bars, and others who work for environmental companies. As such we pride ourselves on running a self-contained event and installing safety measures; there is absolutely no underage drinking, alcohol abuse or troublemaking.

Our group represents about 400 individuals each year who pride themselves on giving back to the local community. Most of these friends stay on Block Island for an extended week or weekend as we rent houses, stay on boats docked at local marinas, or lodge in hotel rooms on Block Island or in the Narragansett area. I would estimate that just during the week of the Fourth of July our group accounts for a boost of almost $250,000 to the local economy, which does not account for additional visits or the value of introducing new people to Block Island who then come back and share positive experiences with their peers. Our group has also donated towards many of the Block Island’s organizations such as the North Light Association; purchased engraved bricks at Esta’s Park; and made donations to the Block Island police and fire departments.

Yes, on July 7, the police department was fully successful in preventing a “party” as they prevented musical equipment on the beach by stating a guitar is not allowed on the beach as it may entice a party. This attitude is reminiscent of the movie “Footloose.” As a result of the crackdown on musical instruments and amplified music — and the intimidating presence of a half dozen police officers — only about one third of the usual attendees spent their day at Vaill Beach, while other annual attendees were terrified of getting arrested or were disappointed at the lack of musical entertainment, and they respected the wishes of the Town of New Shoreham and dutifully followed the directions of the police officers in going back into town. By dissuading any type of responsible gathering on Block Island’s beaches, is Block Island encouraging this same group of college educated adults to find an off-island location where we can bring musical acts and enjoy our social gathering? If the Block Island community frowns on our actions and desires that our group not return, we are willing to find another location, yet cherishing fond memories of the Block Island and its past friendliness.

In closing, for many years we have organized and held a gathering with a quiet and low key approach with a methodical effort to avoid advertising the event as an open party, since it was exclusively intended for a close yet large circle of friends, and to not have the Town of New Shoreham do exactly what they did this year, which was prevent the gathering from taking place. I would welcome the opportunity to talk about continuing the tradition with the same results as years past, which is the tradition of an adult beach gathering with live music in a safe and controlled environment, leaving the beach cleaner than when we arrived, adding revenue into the local economy, respecting others, and sharing in the enjoyment of good times.

Peter Muzsi

Greenwich, Conn.

To: the Editor—

Three cheers to Marc Scortino! I also applaud the town, police and Rescue Squad who have an enormous burden in the summer. However there is a fine line between a police-state and “preserving the public good.”

We don’t need a nanny state that homogenizes our lifestyles via committees and creates a land without spirit. Just the physical hardware of enforcement, nearly ubiquitous, has alone changed the landscape more than any kind of development that The Boards whine about. Never mind what it does to the freedom-loving psyche of those who visit and live here. How can the gentry call Block Island “The Last Great Place” when an adult can not have a cold beer on its glacial beaches? Hmm, sounds like the new 21st century mentality in America: Government will control you because liberty is dangerous.... even responsible adults cannot handle the pitfalls inherent in the pursuit of happiness. Therefore everyone will be treated like imbeciles, because somewhere, one exists. Certainly, un-American.

More importantly, restaurant business is down this summer. Owners feel impacted by the strong police presence because customers are fearful to drive 25 mph after enjoying a few drinks with dinner. An atmosphere of fear keeps the purse at home and on the mainland!

Sue Malone Hunnewell

Dodge Street

To: the Editor—

In last week’s letters column, Marc Scortino patted himself on the back at considerable length in regards to the uprightness and law abiding nature of the enterprise he oversees, Captain Nick’s bar on Ocean Avenue. From there he segued into an equally glowing description of what he called the Mohegan Bluffs Bash, an annual midday bacchanal held on the sandy crescent west of the beach below the Mohegan Bluff steps. There, he explained, for the past 12 years, a group he characterized as being made up of lawyers, doctors and police officers “carry generators, musical equipment, kegs of beer, coolers of food and alcohol... to a secluded spot where they won’t be bothering anyone.” Wrong!

I am not prepared to comment on the beneficence of Captain Nick’s, where my only acquaintance is, on occasion, to pick up sushi rolls of an evening and exit quietly. But as for the Mohegan Bluffs Bash, hear this: Several years ago, extolling to visiting friends unfamiliar with the island the hidden pleasures of the place I call home, I declared in an expansive mood that I would take them to my favorite beach. A bit of a hike, I explained, down the bluff’s steps and around a rocky point, to a strip of sand and sea, backed by towering bluffs, where generally even in the height of summer one could find near solitude and indulge the fantasies of a desert island. Well, we rounded the bend and voila! We beheld a coed assembly of some 75 to 100 drunks, cavorting to amplified music, many of them — we had no way of telling which were the lawyers, doctors or police officers — relieving themselves from a variety of orifices with no more modesty than bending to barf or crouching behind a bolder. We turned and fled.

There is a metaphor that years ago caught my attention as epitomizing the essence of inappropriateness, but for which I could never find just the right example. Here it was — and particularly appropriate for one characterizing himself as a “party professional.” We had discovered, to our horror, a turd in the punch bowl.

Please, Mr. Scortino, keep your parties downtown.


Old Mill Road

To: the Editor—

It was late Sunday afternoon on July 22 when I happened to stop at the Medical Center for other reasons. It was immediately evident that the place was far from quiet. There were two B.I. Rescue vehicles in the yard, a fire engine behind the school, and a Lifestar helicopter loading up in the soccer field behind the school.

Liz Dyer, RNP, was more than busy in the trauma room accompanied by our visiting resident, Cortney Haynes, MD, where she put me to work for about 20 minutes as consultant and minor helper of the team.

In a truly remarkable effort, the Rescue team had already picked up the first patient, who had dropped outside a shop downtown. They immediately defibrillated that patient, continued CPR, and got him to the Medical Center, where he developed acute congestive heart failure. Ms. Dyer did all the right things, controlling the CHF, and called in Lifestar. At this time he is recovering at R.I. Hospital.

While the team was still working on patient number one, a second patient arrived with a confusing neurologic and physical state including seizure activity, requiring minute-to-minute adjustments in treatment until he was finally stabilized enough so that he too could be flown off to RIH, when Lifestar returned for its second evac in two hours.

What I had witnessed was a wonderful cooperative example of expert direction on the part of our RNP, and great assistance by our B.I. Rescue people, who worked hand and glove with Liz. That heroic team included Peter Monje, Julie Conant, Bryan Wilson, Pattie Murphy, Beth Rousseau, and Tristan Payne. My hats off to the whole group. We are fortunate to have you.

Peter B. Baute, MD

Peckham Farm Road

To: the Editor—

On July 3, my wife, Gale, was stricken with severe abdominal pains and bleeding. Our friend, Joe Kuntz, called an ambulance. They were at the boat in moments. There was a police officer there, some volunteers from the Rescue Squad, the Fire Department, and some people from the Harbormaster’s office.

In order to get Gale to the Medical Center, they had to take her off the boat in a chair. Some boaters at the marina ran down and helped with that process. We were taken to the center, where she received immediate attention, and it was determined that she needed to be airlifted to Westerly Hospital. New England Airlines had a plane waiting for us. One of the volunteers came with us and when we got to the airport in Westerly, there was an ambulance waiting for her to take her to the hospital.

We subsequently moved her to Yale-New Haven Hospital, near our home, and she had emergency surgery on July 5. I am pleased to report that she is doing extremely well.

In addition to all of the police, fire, and medical personnel, our friends on the dock, Doug and Jo Wright, took care of our grandchildren for the day along with our new puppy, Pepe.

Block Island is loaded with just wonderful, caring people. I suggest that you considering supporting them when asked. You never know when you will need their services.

Gale and Mike Silverberg

East Haven, Conn.

To: the Editor—

In last weeks letter to the editor thanking the donors for the Lion’s Club Golf Tournament, we left out two very important donors. Club Soda and Payne’s New Harbor Dock.

Block Island Lions Club Golf Committee