February 2020 Volume 25, No. 2
O U T H E R E I N T H E R E A L W O R L D
by Eva Murray
The history of nursing on Matinicus Island goes way back.
Sharon is on the island.
Even those of us who are pretty convinced that we don’t need anything are on Sharon Daley’s radar. She’s the registered nurse associated with the Maine Seacoast Mission—to most of us, “the Sunbeam”—and she’s the closest thing a few islanders have to a primary care provider. Checking on her island patients she’ll often just stop by to visit, or we’ll drop by aboard the Sunbeam when they’re in the harbor, to visit with her, even if we don’t need anything. That’s how health care ought to work.
At the moment the 75’ vessel Sunbeam is in the shipyard, so our pleasant visits aboard (focused largely on steward Jillian’s cookie jar) will have to wait. The ‘Beam’s telemedicine unit, where a patient on the island—in a private area aboard the boat—can interact in real time with a physician, counselor or other provider over a high-resolution video link, has changed the nature of “isolation.” Folks who don’t go to the mainland much can have greater access to medical care and advice than ever before. Still, a videoconference is not the same as a conversation with a human being, particularly when that human is a trusted friend, an experienced nurse who knows a thing or two about the real world.