For Sharon Daley, RN, telemedicine enables everything she does for the Mission’s Island Health program. From scheduling and coordinating care, lab draws, and flu vaccines to meeting with the eldercare partner network and holding her own patient appointments, connecting virtually is essential. “It allows for a wide range of health services, including primary care, medical specialties, behavioral health, and substance abuse,” she says.
Islanders can stay in their communities obtain medical services and stay in touch with loved ones, which is something everyone deserves.
– Sharon Daley, Director of Island Health
While regions of Maine struggle for reliable internet connectivity, islands tend to fare better. “I think that’s why islanders responded so positively and quickly to telemedicine. It’s hard to get off the island for services,” remarked Sharon. “It’s not just a one-hour session with a provider. Islanders must factor in water crossings by mail boats or ferries as well as additional commuting by vehicle. During this time of year, weather affects boat schedules, which in turn means canceling and rescheduling health appointments.” With a decrease in staffing at many provider sites, it takes more time to rebook those appointments.
A recent grant award from the Celia Lipton Farris and Victor W. Farris Foundation will help Sharon and the Mission diminish those challenges. The Farris Foundation supports projects designed to enable people to help themselves lead successful, inspired, and fulfilling lives. Further, these grants focus on supporting projects that stimulate innovation, strengthen individuals and families, and can demonstrate a sustainable impact.
Sharon explained, “The Farris Foundation grant gives us the ability to furnish islanders with iPads. In addition to placing the technology, it also means providing education on how to use it.”
The option to meet virtually will allow essential health services. For island residents, technology also increases connectivity to family, friends, and ordering supplies like food. This means decreasing isolation. If there’s an older adult in a home, they can connect to family members, friends, and the world off-island. This alleviates the sense of remoteness and improves cognitive and emotional health.
In addition, Sharon’s team is identifying people to use iPads for medical visits, counseling, and to attend meetings like AA. “Telemedicine and technology exists for people to access services they would otherwise obtain on the mainland. It means islanders can stay in their communities obtain medical services and stay in touch with loved ones, which is something everyone deserves.”
For a window into Sharon’s work and the Island Health program, watch In Our Words, presented by Walgreen’s Studios.
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME – Two weeks into the New Year, Island Health Director Sharon Daley, RN noticed on Facebook a call for help from Terry Staples at Swan’s Island Bread of Life Food Pantry. While no one was on duty, the pantry freezer quit. “The end result,” wrote Mr. Staples, “was the loss of several hundred pounds of meat.” It will take time to replace the freezer, said Terry. Meanwhile, “if you are…grocery shopping and…could pickup a couple extra meats for us it would be a great help…,” he said.
Sharon asked Mission President John Zavodny and Downeast Director Mel Adams if the Mission could help the Swan’s Island food pantry. The answer was: Yes.
Mission Food Security and Sustainability Programs Coordinator Megan Smith partnered with Downeast Campus Facilities Manager Scott Shaw. They identified ten frozen turkeys and 210 pounds of additional frozen meats which Scott Shaw delivered 45-miles from Cherryfield to Northeast Harbor.
Meanwhile, Terry Staples told Sharon Daley the mail boat to Swan’s Island from Bass Harbor would transport the meat one hour over the water if the Mission could get the meat to the ferry by 11:00 am Monday, January 24.
On the 24th, Sharon Daley and Mel Adams received an email from Megan Smith. She said, “The frozen meat and turkeys are on the ferry heading to Swans Island…. I am so glad that we could help Terry and the Swans Island pantry.”
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME – One remarkable outcome of Island Health Director Sharon Daley’s work among Maine islands is the dedicated, ongoing network of eldercare workers from ten unbridged islands. The group meets virtually throughout the year via Zoom or conference calls to share on-the-job information, answer questions, and offer professional camaraderie.
Each year the Mission hosts an ElderCare Conference at which the network eldercare health workers meet for two days to talk shop, learn from guest speakers, and to socialize in-person.
This year’s ElderCare Conference, originally planned for January at Nebo Lodge, an island inn and restaurant on North Haven island, is being rescheduled. The new itinerary will be announced though the Mission’s social media as soon as possible. The original itinerary included plenty of time for ElderCare workers to relax and recharge.
“One of the really important things we do,” Sharon Daley said of the network, is meeting frequently with Maine State government administrators about regulations affecting island ElderCare Homes. Designed to provide island elderly a way to spend their final years on the islands, near family and friends, these homes “don’t fit in the box the State has kind of made,” said Sharon.
The conference is “a chance for the home administrators to work with the State people on helping regulations make sense,” she said.
Other guest speakers on tap for the 2022 ElderCare Conference are:
Tammy Usher – Provider Relations Specialist at State of Maine.
Susan Wehry, MD – Chief of Geriatrics at the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Director of AgingME, Maine’s Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program.
Anand Viswanathan, MD, PhD – Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and Associate Director, Mass General Brigham Telestroke Program.
In addition, said Sharon, in the wake of a very challenging Covid-19 year, “We hope to have an occupational or massage therapist and do yoga. We’re going to spend time on self-care; kind of spoil the people who have been doing the [island elderly] care.”
NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, RN no sooner completed a multi-island run aboard the Sunbeam administering flu shots, when the Mission received a CDC green light to administer Covid vaccination boosters among certain island communities.
Sharon and fellow Sunbeam crew member, Director of Island Outreach & Chaplain Douglas Cornman, are members of the Mission Covid Vaccination Team. In three months, starting in February 2021, that team Covid vaccinated 343 people on seven islands.
On November 1, Douglas said, “Last week, in less than 48-hours, Sharon, Administrative Assistant Margaret Snell, and I, scheduled Covid booster shot trips to seven islands. We secured vaccine. We put fliers together announcing the vaccine booster is available, and posted them on the islands,” Douglas said.
The response from island communities was instantaneous.
“Over the weekend we had over 50 people contact me requesting their booster. In two weeks we’ll be doing boosters on those seven islands. We will have given everyone their booster before their Thanksgiving holiday,” said Douglas.
It’s Thank you Thursday. Today’s shout out of Mission love goes to the entire Mission Covid Vaccine Team.
Mission President John Zavodny, Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, Island Outreach Director & Chaplain Douglas Cornman, and Mission Board member, Jill Goldthwait express their thanks during a mini-Sunbeam “thank you” cruise to the many good people who helped make a success the months long vaccination clinics on the several islands.
Maureen Giffin, RN, Peggy Akers, NP, EMTs, boat captains, pharmacists, and to everyone who said, “Yes” – we will do what it takes to get this done – thank you. With your help and knowledge 343 people were vaccinated over a three-month period.