To the Editor:
The island community is so lucky to have such a treasure among us in Kim Gaffett, and over the course of this winter and spring the library and the children of the island were incredibly fortunate to learn from her each week during our Healthy Kids Inside and Out program. The Island Free Library, in partnership with Kim and The Nature Conservancy, began this program in January of this year with a walk to Old Harbor on a cold and sunny day where we saw mallards, waves over the break wall, cement, an old boat, and the ferry leaving. We found feathers, shells and dead birds, which Kim told us were a common eider and a common loon, and we looked at the similarities and differences between them. We touched feathers, birds, and sand, and heard the ferry horn blowing, children laughing, and seaweed crunching. Upon our return to the library we had a science discussion with Kim and recorded our observations and our experiences, and the children could draw pictures of the treasures we had collected. The following week we ventured to Surf Beach and walked on frozen saltwater and even tasted it, and in March we found a dinosaur (a leatherback turtle)! These are only a few highlights from the time we spent together, each week was a new and exciting adventure.
This past Friday was our last session until September, and Kim, wonder woman that she is, was out in the early hours digging out a flower-shaped bird bath to create with the kids, utilizing all their found treasures, and located under our new bird feeders (that Kim brought for us) located outside the children’s window that the kids love to fill and watch the birds visit! Kim not only dug out a flower-shaped hole in the ground (per the children’s request), but she set the flashing, mixed and poured the concrete, and helped each child secure their treasures in the birdbath. Each week she was so patient with the children (ages 2-5), no matter what their questions were, or how wild they may be that particular day, and her love of nature and education was so apparent that it made all participants, children and adults, want to learn more about the world we live in so that we can care for it and preserve it.
I am so grateful to Kim, and thank her for devoting her time, knowledge, and passion to the youth of the island and to the library itself. Be sure to stop by and see our new children’s garden in the back of the library, hopefully you will see some birds eating sunflower seeds, suet, or thistle. We also have a log book at the library detailing our adventures as well as featuring beautiful illustrations done by the young program participants, that is available if you want to learn more about our excellent outdoor adventures!
Youth Services Librarian
Island Free Library
P.S. Kim, I promise to always remember that seagulls do not exist, but gulls do!
Trust, Tolerance, Truth, Transparency
The following letter was sent to Dr. Mark Clark and copied to The Block Island Times:
I have witnessed your devotion to your patients. I have been on the receiving end of it. The successful efforts and energy you have put into improving and revitalizing the Medical Center has been a boon to us all. What happened? You have resigned. One of our most valued caregivers has been terminated. The shock in our community is palpable everywhere I go.
This needs to be mediated. I trusted — we trusted — your commitment to this job. I am disappointed. There are about a thousand full-time year-round residents in this amazing community and you have failed them. When you became a doctor you took an oath to “do no harm.” You have failed that oath.
The termination of Liz Dyer harms many members of this community that have needed and been able to depend on her skills, caring, knowledge, and expertise. She has helped make it possible for each of us to grow, thrive, live, and work together in this extraordinary place. It is not believable that those abilities have suddenly disappeared.
This community works because we trust and help and support each other. It is not about what you look like or how you dress or where you’re from. You give help whenever or where ever you can and it comes right back to you when you need it. As a new year-round resident eight years ago, and to this day, I’ve needed help and as difficult as it was and is for me, I went to and called people and we talked and sometimes argued our way through what was needed and lo and behold I had new friends and a new understanding and a profound respect for what makes Block Island unique. We are on an island. We are in this together.
You have decided to leave. That is your choice. But please do not throw away a member of our community who is vitally important to us on your way out. A mediator would be a far better solution to any disagreements than more attorneys.
I listened to you, and heard, when you urged me to change my diet and my life. I urge you to listen to, and hear, this community and step up and rescind this unnecessary and utterly egregious decision.
West Side Road
To the Editor:
I wholeheartedly agree with the June 1 editorial about Doctor Clark’s email explanation to Medical Center patients following his firing of Nurse Practitioner Elizabeth Dyer. The reported rational for this travesty is that Ms. Dyer “did not fit in”. She had been with the Medical Center for eight years, several years longer than the doctor.
Worse yet is that his action took place a month after the doctor himself handed in his resignation, for personal and professional reasons — who is it that does not fit in?
This will require us to “head hunt” for two Health Professionals in the next four months; an expensive and exhausting process.
It took us decades to get two “full time” doctors. We have had two professionals on staff now for more than a decade with the following exception:
Among other provisions in the doctor’s contract is that he works only two weeks each month, returning to New York for the other two weeks. That means that we will have no island based Health Professional half the time between now and the last week of October, by far our busiest season.
With regard to the Doctor’s resignation, it is dated May first and presumably sent to the entire thirteen member board. That preceded the financial town meeting at which time a 33 percent increase in funding was requested and granted. We were assured by the board Treasurer that all was fine at the Medical Center, which was not true, we had already lost our doctor.
As we have seen from last week’s letters to the editor, NP Dyer is greatly loved and respected by a large number of island residents.
This action needs to be reversed with NP Dyer reinstated. Then we can start to attract the lead Health Professional and hope we can have that person on board before November first.
To the Editor:
Not sure what the Medical Center’s new agenda is, but it’s clearly not patient care. Last week’s firing “without cause” of arguably their best and best-loved caregiver (besides Linda of course), left a great many island residents and families without a health care provider. Many of us were abandoned in the middle of important treatment, with zero effort to transition our care to anyone else. Apparently, the Medical Center has also become a toxic work environment. Guess the days when the Medical Center was about caring for people are gone.
David and Lucinda Morrison
Old Town Road
To the Editor:
I am planning to come to Block Island this summer as I have every summer since 2012, when I came and worked at the Block Island Medical Center as a Brown Medical student. Looking at The Times in preparation for my trip, I was shocked and appalled to see the headline announcing that Liz Dyer, the longtime nurse practitioner and a major reason why Brown students came to the island, was fired. So many of the fond memories that I have of the island and the community are because of Liz. I can’t even imagine what my rotation on the island would have looked like without her.
My fellow medical students and I learned more from Liz in five weeks than can be expressed in a letter. We learned about treating medical illness and injuries, of course, and it was amazing to see Liz’s clinical acumen, as she diagnosed people correctly even in the face of doubt from others.
More than that, though, we saw a professional who truly cared for the community that she served and went above and beyond to make patients, both Block Island residents and visitors for the summer, feel validated, heard, and well cared for. She provided compassion and formed connections with every patient she saw.
If someone had even a minor medical issue that many providers would dismiss and ask that the patient wait until the next day, Liz made herself available by phone and in person. If anyone had a question, she took the time to answer it, whether it happened during office hours or when she was at a social gathering off the clock.
Over and over, during my rotation, I saw patients come in talking about how much they love Liz. I was even hearing about Liz before I came to the island. A friend of the family had always spoken about a nurse practitioner, Liz, who was at Kent County Hospital, who saved her mother’s life. I didn’t know that I would be working with that same gifted clinician a few years later. I didn’t know that I would see her save lives before my own eyes.
I have never written a letter to a newspaper before, but, when I saw that Liz had been fired without cause, I felt that it is important to make known the perspective of someone whose medical education was enhanced dramatically by Liz’s supervision and teaching. I know that the same is true for many of my classmates and other Brown medical students that had the opportunity to work with and learn from Liz. As a practicing physician and now a clinical educator and supervisor myself, I continue to see the ways in which my time at the Block Island Medical Center, and in particular, with Liz Dyer, has shaped the way I approach and practice medicine.
Erin Valenti, MD
To the Editor:
Is Block Island about to sink?
OK. We probably won’t sink in the near future, but if we don’t make some changes, we may soon be awash in CO2, plastic garbage and various toxins!
An Ecumenical Study group has met for the past four weeks to learn and dialogue about the care of the earth, air and sea. We participated in extensive consideration of the global, national and local impact of good and poor stewardship practices. So now we feel called to invite our entire community, residents and visitors, to join in an effort to become better stewards of our planet, and especially our island. Here are some initial action possibilities:
1. Sign up at 350.org to join a movement for environmental responsibility.
2. Join in asking the Town Council to establish a charging station for electric cars.
3. Figure out and implement ways to remove trash from various beaches, especially at the North Light.
4. Encourage restaurants to use recyclable to-go containers.
5. Install solar panels now — in 2019 the 30 percent tax deduction is still in effect.
Join a huddle on Tuesday, July 16th at 8 a.m. at the Harbor Church to share what has been happening toward ecological sustainability on the island. Coffee will be served — in ceramic cups!