Island Clinics – Hope and Relief

The Mission medical team traveling between islands aboard a lobster boat. Maine Public Broadcaster Patty Wight is traveling with them.

NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME — After weeks of planning and operating Covid-19 vaccination clinics for residents of seven Maine islands, the Mission medical team remains hard at it. Mission Island Outreach Director Douglas Cornman notifies island populations of upcoming vaccination clinics, registering island residents who want vaccinations. Bad weather or a changed vaccine delivery schedule means Douglas must reschedule everyone. He also provides the Maine Immunization Information System (ImmPact) with current, accurate island clinic immunization records.

Mission Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, RN is the team’s lead nurse. She stays in almost constant touch with the Maine Center for Disease Control, local hospital pharmacies, island and mainland medical workers. Sharon ensures the safety of vaccines, that there are safe places on islands to have clinics, that all the necessary clinic supplies are in place, and that there are enough medical workers available.

Everyone involved looks for the fair weather that allows the medical team to travel to the island by water or air.

The experienced Mission team always has a backup plan. The preferred means of clinic travel is aboard the Mission’s 74-foot boat Sunbeam. It has state of the art navigation gear and a telemedicine room with a medical grade refrigerator tailor made for preserving vaccinations.

Those days the wind is steady and forceful enough to prevent the Sunbeam from docking, the medical team travels by small boats able to avoid the wind, or by small airplanes able to ride the wind.

The team makeup varies clinic to clinic, but its members include Mission staff and non-Mission medical pros. The Mission team members are Director Sharon Daley, RN ; Director Douglas Cornman; President John Zavodny, and the Sunbeam crew: Captain Mike Johnson, Engineer Storey King, and Steward Jillian.

Nurses Maureen Giffin, Peggy Akers, island EMTs, and other helpers complete the medical team lineup.

What really changes — island clinic to island clinic — are the residents receiving vaccinations. News from people at the island clinics all report island residents’ joy, relief, and happiness. That’s true of news account from professional reporters traveling with the medial team, or email and social media accounts from medical team members.

Earlier in this effort, Mission President Zavodny told a reporter the clinics will continue until all of the island residents we serve who want to be vaccinated are vaccinated. “Now that we’re closing in on the end of the formal clinics,” said President Zavodny, “Sharon will be working to secure smaller caches of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We won’t keep doing clinics per se.”

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