Greetings everyone – and Happy New Year!
I find the beginning of each New Year a good time to reflect on all we accomplished over the previous year. The year 2012 was filled with great milestones achieved and challenges being met head-on. Our hospital, like most hospitals around the country, is working hard to combat the national shortage of primary care physicians. Our unique situation of being 30 miles out at sea, coupled with a high cost of living, makes this issue especially challenging for NCH.
We continued our commitment to all residents of Nantucket with the June expansion of MD ACKcess. Thanks to this initiative, patients who need non-emergency but urgent medical attention can get an appointment to see a primary care clinician within 24 hours. We are dedicated to making sure every resident’s health needs are being met, and plans are underway to increase primary care further. We also welcomed family practitioner Dr. Nicole Steinmuller and surgeon Dr. Richard Koehler to our hospital this year, and we look forward to increasing our staff of physicians in 2013.
Thanks to these efforts, I’m proud to report that the waiting list for assignment to a primary care physician has decreased from a high of 200 people to approximately 30 over the last six months – an 85% reduction. Through MD ACKcess, our clinicians were able to care for patients within a day or two, allowing many patients not in need of emergency care to circumvent the ER.
I understand the frustration that’s present when it comes to the shortage of primary care physicians. However, I’m extremely pleased with the headway that was made during 2012. Each of you has my promise that we will make it through this shortage until that waitlist reads zero.
As many of you know, longtime resident Roy Flanders did an extraordinary thing for our hospital when he made a $250,000 challenge grant to help take our Annual Fund to a new level. The response from the community was overwhelming, positioning us to far exceed all previous fundraising records. My colleagues and I were deeply touched by Roy’s words: “They saved my life three times before I really thanked them--- Don’t wait that long.”
There are many great things on the horizon for our hospital, and I look forward to having each of you along for the ride, each step of the way.
To each and all of you, I wish a prosperous 2013.
Yours in good health,
Margot Hartmann, M.D., Ph.D.
President and CEO, Nantucket Cottage Hospital