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Health Council Program Overview
Given our mission to promote community-wide health and wellness through the development of a cooperative, integrated health care network of health care for Martha’s Vineyard, our approach has been to identify critical unmet needs, then through research and analysis, to recommend solutions.

l We are an all-volunteer body with limited financial resources.

l We are not in the business to run programs, but instead to identify a permanent home with sufficient funding and staff resources to implement our recommendations.

l The Access Program is an exception.  It has become a Department of the County

l A better example is the Island Health Plan, where with County assistance, additional funding and an outside consultant, we developed a concrete plan to create insurance coverage for the un- and under-insured. Then, at the request of the County, we spun it off as a separate 501(c) 3.

l Since then, we have returned to our core mission: namely, to identify critical unmet needs and seek ways to address them.  Our programs have to do with:
- Primary Care
- Elder’s Access to Care
- Care for the Chronically Ill
- Treatment of Mental Illness & Substance Abuse
- A Fresh Prevention and Wellness Approach to Public Health

Martha’s Vineyard Health Report:
Not only must we be “mission focused”, but also “data driven”.  We, therefore, undertook an in-depth study of the health and health care of the Island, in partnership with the Foundation for Island Health, which lead the project.  This study was conducted with major assistance from Diane Becker, a part-time resident, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Health Promotion at the Johns Hopkins.  Volume I will be released this fall.  A preview was published last summer. [Link to One-Page Summary]

Primary Care:
We see access to primary care as a critical need in our community, supported by the MV Health Report.  This need is driving MV Hospital’s active recruitment of primary care physicians, MV Hospital’s efforts to examine other ways to fund and address primary care needs beyond the use of the ER, and Island Health Inc’s decision to seek funds for a Rural Health Clinic.
The Council was deeply concerned that these efforts were taking place without sufficient genuine collaboration between the institutions undertaking these efforts.  It, therefore, created a Primary Care Working Group and charged it with the responsibility of developing a model for primary care that could serve as a standard by which we expect the public and our health care institutions to hold each other accountable. [Link to Definition and Principles]

This, in turn, led to the submission to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant application, designed to secure financial support for the strategic planning necessary to create an integrated primary care network addressing medical, behavioral and oral health.

This application is a first in the almost 10-year life of the Council and represents a major step forward in fulfilling our Mission.

Geriatric Access: Elders’ Access To Care
In 2003 an in depth analysis of elders’ access to care and referral patterns was undertaken, focusing on care providers: physicians, home health agencies, Hospice, Councils on Aging, as well as churches and public safety organizations.
Findings – A series of recommendations [Link to Recommendations]

Chronic Illness: “Community Care” for the Chronically Ill
A comprehensive study was undertaken several years ago.  It chronicled needs well beyond medical care, including transportation, property maintenance and legal advice.

This, in turn, led to the creation of the Chronic Illness Network Advisory Board, formally appointed by the County and charged with responsibility for identifying strategies to address these needs.

Recommendations included the development of a referral system and a volunteer coordinator

Having confronted difficulty finding funds to support their recommendations or an institutional home, the Chronic Illness Network has entered into a promising collaboration with Island Health inc. and the Rural Health Clinic.

Behavioral Health Network: Care for Mental Illness & Substance Abuse
The Behavioral Health Network is meant to function much like the Health Council, where all those who have a stake in the treatment and care of mental illness and substance abuse can meet and address the significant needs of our Island.

The term “Behavioral Health” is a way of thinking of both mental illness and substance abuse as co-occurring disorders.
The Behavioral Health Network is still in a formative stage.

Wellness & Prevention: A Fresh, Approach to Public Health [Link to Write-up Prepared by Cathy Brennan]

Community Health Forums:
A series of six forums about health care on Martha’s Vineyard is being planned by the League of Women Voters, the Dukes County Health Council, the Foundation for Island Health, Island Health Inc. and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.  They are being designed to provide opportunities for hard-hitting discussions in which off-Island and on-Island experts, Vineyard health care clinicians, and Vineyard residents…both part-time and year-round…can talk about improving the health care system here in an effort to create a climate for and expectation of change. [Link to One-Page Summary]

The Forum Topics and Tentative Dates
Health Care Policy*: January 23 
The New Hospital: February 13   
Primary Care: March 20  
Mental Health: April 17
Funding Health Care: May 15
Rural Public Health: June 19

Note: * Focusing on the platform and policies of the winning candidate and their implications for those in the trenches

The County of Dukes County PO Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539
Phone: 508.696.3840    Fax: 508.696.3841
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