Director of Island Health Sharon Daley, RN, started working at the Mission in 2000 and will retire after 22 years of working with the island communities. When she joined the Mission, Sharon initially focused on setting up the home health and telehealth program. However, she immediately noticed mental health services were needed and worked with mental health care providers to set up telehealth appointments on the Sunbeam. One of the providers she connected with was Dr. Diehl Snyder, a psychiatrist who led the behavioral health center at Mount Desert Island Hospital. Dr. Snyder was given the Sunbeam award for his participation in Mission programming and commitment to islanders, and he currently serves on the Mission’s Board of Directors. Dr. Snyder shared his memories of Sharon in this message to the Mission.
“When my wife, Susan, and I moved to Maine in 2003, I began work at the MDI Hospital Behavioral Health Center in Bar Harbor. We offered care to any person who requested our services and could drive to our outpatient office. Within the first year of my Maine work I received a call from Sharon at the Maine Seacoast Mission asking if I would consider taking care of persons who lived on outer islands via telemedicine connections. Since I had done similar work with isolated rural Pennsylvania patients, I said yes. She made calls to many other mainland healthcare providers and got similar responses. Who could say no to Sharon?
Sharon then invited me to come aboard the Sunbeam. She showed me the boat’s medical room with its telemedicine equipment. Her dream was to have matching telemedicine equipment in our MDI Hospital Behavioral Health Center. When the Sunbeam made its scheduled visits to the Islands, patients could receive psychiatric evaluations, follow-up medication supervision, and psychotherapy without the burden of traveling to the mainland. Through her dogged determination and caring persistence, she turned that dream into reality!
Becoming part of Sharon’s living, working, telemedicine system which provided health care to these island communities, has been one of the most satisfying activities of my professional work. Many of these islanders did not know where to turn for help. Sharon would listen to their problems and gently, Sunbeam visit by Sunbeam visit, she guided them to the appropriate healthcare providers via telemedicine. Sharon was always in the medical room on the boat and would introduce the patient and their problem to the practitioner on the other end of the telemedicine connection. She coached these patients on formulating treatment plans that were workable within their Island lifestyle as they consulted with their telehealth providers on the mainland. Sharon was the glue that held this amazing, floating, rural, healthcare system together!
In 2010, psychiatric resident physicians from the University of Pennsylvania began spending two-week rural, behavioral health rotations at MDI Hospital each summer. Sharon invited each of these resident physicians to spend a day with her on the Sunbeam observing real rural Maine psychiatric care on her beloved islands. Every resident reported that their time with Sharon on the Sunbeam was one of the highlights of their Maine medical experiences.
Sharon has been an inspiring, caring, patient centered colleague that helped me to take better care of all my patients.”