Q&A with Dr. Clark

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 5:15pm

The following interview was submitted by Dr. Mark Clark:

Q: Is the creation of an acute care unit at the Medical Center really necessary?

A: The acute care unit is necessary for four important reasons:

First, the current physical space is inadequate in size and equipment for the acutely ill and injured patients we already see on a daily basis such as those with trauma, heart attack, stroke, or serious infection. Patients require procedures, surgical wound care, IV fluids, cardiac monitoring and reductions of dislocated extremities. Many need intervention and stabilization prior to transport off island.

Second, the space as it exists now cannot safely accommodate more than one acute patient at a time. We currently provide care for multiple acute patients simultaneously on a daily basis.

Third, we need a dedicated space that is properly appointed for the care of pediatric patients. It is essential that the Medical Center be prepared for the care of very ill or injured children, and quality in this arena requires a dedicated set-up.

Fourth, the acute care area needs to be physically distinct from the primary care area and allow for patient privacy and safety while also protecting a secure, clean, and efficient primary care area.

Q: Is adding housing to the Medical Center Campus a cost-effective use of funds or just a waste of money?

A: At this time the Block Island community and tourists benefit from thousands of hours of free service provided by our visiting resident physicians, students in exchange for continuing education in rural family and emergency medicine. Their presence allows us to provide more care to greater numbers and also improves quality. Reliable housing is a prerequisite for this cost-effective program that leverages the care we can provide. The replacement of our students and resident physicians with paid providers or mid-level practitioners would increase payroll budget requirements by approximately $250,000 per year, not including benefits.

Q: But has the leadership of the Medical Center proven themselves to be responsible stewards of resources?

A: Every inch of the Medical Center is in use to allow the expansion of patient services and provide support for care. Every dollar spent has been carefully deliberated and focused on quality. Every staff member is performing multiple functions to help care run efficiently and smoothly. Every process such as billing procedures and review of contracts with insurers has been diligently analyzed and maximized. We are not asleep at the wheel. We see the commitment to responsible stewardship of resources as an ethical imperative, it is central to the BIHS Mission Statement, and we are all working to ensure maximum return in terms of concrete services to the community. We have sought and continue to seek outside sources of funding such as grants. As a recipient of town support, we have only once sought increased funding in the last four years, an average of 3.4 percent increase per year, while services and volume have increased significantly.

We have outgrown our space for care, support, and for our expanding services. Our equipment needs updating. As we integrate telehealth, increased behavioral health and preventive services, our physical plant needs to keep pace.

This is a golden moment for the Medical Center and for Block Island to secure quality primary and urgent health care for our community and for our visitors. The capital campaign is built on worthwhile goals that will have real, immediate, and lasting impact on lives while also ensuring that the Medical Center can continue to raise the bar and be a source of pride for all Block Islanders.