Open letter from the Medical Center

Sat, 06/08/2019 - 10:45am

The following letter was sent to The Block Island Times on June 6, 2019:

We are writing to assure our patients that they will continue to have access to excellent health care at the Medical Center despite recent personnel changes.

In order to ensure uninterrupted care for all our patients, our medical director Dr. Mark Clark has announced that he will extend his stay on the island for another 12-18 months, or as long as it takes to recruit a successor.

During that time Dr. Clark will continue to treat all the Medical Center’s patients, as he has done in the past when other medical staff were off-duty or off-island. Dr. Clark is already familiar with all Medical Center patients and will be able to provide continuity of care. At the same time, our other staff professionals, who have done so much to raise the quality of on-island care in the past few years, will continue to faithfully serve patients as they always have.      

Looking ahead we want to reassure you that we have a plan to transition to a new management team.   The key components of this plan are:

  • We have begun advertising for a new nurse practitioner to fill the vacant position of mid-level medical provider. This is an immediate priority for the Board and for Dr. Clark.
  • We are assembling a first-rate search committee to recruit a new medical director to replace Dr. Clark. Co-chairing the committee will be our Board members Laura Parsons and Robert Greenlee MD, who practiced at Westerly Hospital. The rest of the committee will consist of local representatives and health care professionals. We expect that this committee will begin its work later this month.    
  • We expect to have the usual full complement of resident physicians this year to serve the swelling summer population, ensuring that there will be more than adequate health care coverage for the coming season.
  • Clark has restructured the Center’s business operations to accelerate steps the staff has already taken to improve the Center’s productivity and financial efficiency.

Over the past four years, the Board has strongly supported Dr. Clark’s efforts to improve the professionalism of our medical care. This includes actions he has taken regarding staffing. Please rest assured that all actions taken in this area have been taken with the Board’s very informed and conscious support and driven by a commitment to patient care, professionalism, and the future health care of the Block Island community.

During his tenure at the Center, Dr. Clark has worked with the Board, the staff, and the community to significantly improve the quality of on-island care and build a more professional operation. This has included an absolute commitment to patient confidentiality, and the implementation of new services, including a thriving 3-day/week physical therapy program, behavioral health and counseling, women’s health services, and a wellness and risk reduction program with medically supervised exercise and nutrition counseling.

Because of these improvements more island residents than ever before are using the Medical Center for primary care and the number of patient visits has increased dramatically.   Last year alone, there were over 7,400 visits, a 51 percent increase in Medical Center services over 2017.

Like everyone else who knows and appreciates the job he has done here, we are disappointed by Dr. Clark’s decision to leave Block Island, but we respect his professional and personal reasons for returning to the mainland. Island life is not for everyone. Nevertheless, we are immensely grateful for the foundation he has laid in building a first class medical operation.

We are confident in the future of the Center and look forward to our next phase of island health care.   All of us – the Board, the staff, and the community – share the same objective for continued excellence in health care.


Block Island Health Services Board of Directors