Since 1905, the Maine Seacoast Mission has played a vital role in connecting residents of Maine’s most isolated islands with medical care by ensuring that medical staff can meet people on the Sunbeam and in their homes. The program’s purpose is to improve the health and well-being of island residents and help build healthy, strong communities.
Over 90% of year-round island residents visited by the Sunbeam depend on one or more of our programs. Without Island Health, island residents would have to make difficult, expensive and lengthy trips to the mainland for health care services—obstacles that would prevent or delay many from seeking needed care.
The Island Health program also arranges for specialists, such as podiatrists, dentists, and ophthalmologists, to visit the islands via the Sunbeam. Our staff sets up on-site screening clinics for cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes and arranges educational talks on relevant topics such as fishing safety, tick-borne illness, and mental health.
There is never a charge for any Mission staff member’s services.
Photo by Erin Clarke, Boston Globe
Year-round, the Sunbeam visits islands every two weeks to offer medical care and access to the onboard telehealth clinic.
The Sunbeam is equipped with portable state-of-the-art telehealth facilities, including a specialized examination camera and other diagnostic devices, so that islanders on Frenchboro, Isle au Haut and Matinicus can have virtual office visits with doctors on the mainland.
Islanders are concerned about caring for their elderly neighbors, and residents want to be able to stay on the islands as they age. Many older island residents have limited insurance coverage. Facilities and services to meet older residents’ needs in these small communities are few and far between.
To address these issues, the Mission sponsors an annual two-day conference focused on how professionals, family members and neighbors alike can help elders from island communities age well in place. Members of our eldercare network collaborate to share resources and learn about a variety of topics, and representatives from state agencies meet with administrators of small eldercare homes from four islands to share policy updates. Monthly conference calls, an eldercare blog, and a Facebook page keep this supportive group connected year-round.
While on island, the Sunbeam nurse visits islanders in their homes when coming aboard the Sunbeam isn’t possible or necessary. Some of the best home visits are actually truck visits: islanders stop and roll down a window to visit, make an appointment, or follow up on a health issue.
The Mission acts as a trusted bridge between mainland resources and the islands, connecting islanders to appropriate resources and medical care when needed. We partner with local EMTs and clinics on island, and are able to help people navigate insurance, financial assistance, and referrals, and provide emotional support for stressful times.
Mental Wellness & Recovery
Telehealth is increasingly important for its role in mental health. Islanders of all ages can use the Sunbeam’s technology to connect with psychiatrists for evaluations and medication reviews or meet with mental health and substance abuse counselors. The staff can also refer people to support groups such as AA.
The Mission’s health education offerings range from one-on-one meetings with patients to larger presentations given both in person or virtually on issues such as smoking cessation, mental health, or responding to the pandemic. In partnership with local hospitals and health agencies, the Mission also hosts on-island health fairs with blood pressure checks, music therapy, information on stress strategies, and more.
Each fall, the Mission offers flu shot clinics on seven islands, and during the recent pandemic, the Mission set up twenty pop-up clinics and vaccinated over 350 islanders against COVID-19 over a three-month period.
With permission from a provider, the Mission staff can also provide minor procedures like stitch removal, lab draws and access to on-site specialist care.
Our work is your work, made possible by your generous gifts.
No matter how hard times get, the Mission will be there, helping sustain and strengthen families and communities. Please join us. Your donations bring warmth when it’s cold, shed light where it’s dark, and give strength when burdens grow heavy.
Contact us to donate, volunteer, or arrange for planned giving.