June 01, 2019 01:00 AM
Healthcare comes via boat to Maine’s most remote islanders
Twenty-two miles from the rocky coast of Maine sits 720-acre Matinicus Isle—the state’s most seaward island—with a year-round population of less than 100. Even when the weather is at its best, accessing healthcare services is a challenge for residents.
That’s where Maine Seacoast Mission comes in. Headquartered on the mainland in Bar Harbor, the not-for-profit has provided islanders with healthcare services via boat for more than 100 years. Its fiscal 2018 $3.5 million budget is funded by an endowment, donations and grants.
The Sunbeam and its crew of five take three-day trips out to the islands to provide healthcare services every two weeks, and while they have a schedule for when they’ll visit certain islands, a trip rarely goes as planned, said Sharon Daley, a registered nurse who works on the boat and is director of island health services. The schedule depends on the wind, weather, tides and the various schedules of providers. “There is really no typical,” she said.