Medical Center gets a boost

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 9:30am

The Block Island Health Services Board is the recipient of charitable funding that will be used to finance two projects: $50,000 for broadband, and $26,500 to fund part of the installation of a roof-mounted solar array for the Medical Center.

Dr. Mark Clark announced receipt of the $50,000 donation during his Medical Director’s report, and said the funding was earmarked for Information Technology and broadband needs. Clark said the donation came from a person who was “thrilled with the good medical care, and follow-up” provided by Nurse Practitioner Liz Dyer, and Emergency Medicine resident Chris Peters. Clark said Peters followed up a week later by visiting with the patient at a mainland hospital. “The family was so thrilled with the care that he received” that they donated the money, he said.

“That’s a wonderful surprise,” said BIHS President Cindy Baute, who began the meeting by announcing that the Medical Center was the recipient of a “$26,500 Champlin Foundations grant.” Baute said the grant money would go toward replacement of the facility’s south-facing roof where a new 620-square foot 8.3-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system will be installed. “So our roof and solar system will be a hundred percent done.”

In August, the New Shoreham Town Council voted unanimously to approve $19,500 in funding for the purchase of the solar equipment that was contingent upon the Medical Center receiving the Champlin Foundations grant. The funding approved by the Town Council will be allocated from the town’s capital budget for building improvements at the Medical Center.

Ray Torrey, Chair of the Property Management subcommittee, said that since the roof work has been completed that installation of the solar equipment would commence in about a week’s time. Torrey told the board that the installation shouldn’t take too long to install.

Torrey said Chris Warfel, who will be installing the solar equipment on the Medical Center’s roof, is “going to start soon. He’s waiting for Town Hall to furnish him the permits,” said Torrey. “He thinks that he would like to start maybe a week from now.”

In other news, Dr. Clark said that the Medical Center has signed on to utilize the Athena Healthcare network for its electronic medical records. “It’s a lengthy process, but we expect to go live with the new health records at the end of January, if all goes well,” he said. Clark noted that the Medical Center is also using ELLKAY, a data migration company, to help migrate patient records over to the new electronic system.

Clark said that when the “patient portal” system is operational patients will be able to access their medical records 24 hours per day, “including lab and test results. They’ll be able to send a message directly to their provider, or to one of the staff at the Medical Center.” As a result of greater efficiency in the system “there will be more face-time with patients,” he said.

As for sustaining a physical therapy program, Clark said he was exploring a potential partnership with Healy Physical Therapy, which has two offices in Rhode Island. However, he pointed out that the billing part of making that happen is “really complex. The goal is to provide the service without taking a huge loss.”

Despite that, Clark said that he thought Healy might be a good fit, and could include keeping the current physical therapy staff in place. 

The current staff includes Certified Athletic Trainer Allison Warfel, and Physical Therapist Tom Hobin.

Clark also announced a series of promotions and new hires at the Medical Center. Most notable was the movement of Pattie Murphy from the front desk to back office support as Billing Coordinator, and the promotion of Terri Chmiel, who joined BIHS in April of 2015, from Finance Specialist to CFO/Finance Director. 

Fundraising Chair Pat Doyle informed the board that her first letter for the Lights of Love campaign netted a $500 promise (donation) from a family in California that has a home on Block Island. 

The next BIHS meeting is Monday, Dec. 18 at 4 p.m. at the Medical Center.