Campaign to Rebuild Hospital Turns to Year-Round Islanders
By JAMES KINSELLA
With summer residents on board with major donations for the Martha's Vineyard Community Hospital capital campaign, volunteers are pursuing the next crucial area of support: the Islanders who call the Vineyard home.
The Islander campaign has gotten under way with a series of by-invitation dinners and an advertising effort asking for donations from the Vineyard community at large. An Islandwide mailing is due to go out by the end of the month.
The campaign is seeking donations from each of the 6,500 Vineyard households with locally registered voters.
"The money's important," said Chilmark resident Edward Miller, chairman of the Islander campaign. "But what's most important is the percentage participation."
The capital campaign has raised more than $30 million in pledges toward the $42 million the hospital said is needed to rebuild and expand its aging facility off Linton Lane in Oak Bluffs.
"We're pleased to be roughly 75 per cent of the way there," said Warren Spector, co-chairman of the capital campaign. "The last 25 per cent is the hardest part, not the easiest part."
For the campaign to reach its goal, Mr. Spector said, "We're going to have to get a very large volume of medium and small gifts."
That is where campaign planners hope that year-round Vineyarders will step in. Providing 10 per cent of the overall campaign goal - about $4 million –- would get us a long way there, Mr. Spector said.
Moreover, he added, almost every donor so far has asked whether the Islanders planned to back the campaign.
"Summer residents who are bearing the vast majority of the burden want to know that the Island community supports it - not only in words but in deeds," Mr. Spector said.
Mr. Miller said a committee to steer Island fund-raising efforts started to form soon after the overall capital campaign was formally launched last summer with an announcement that $20 million in pledges had been collected.
Participants, Mr. Miller said, told him they were tired of the attitude that summer people should take care of it. "If there ever was an issue that drew us together, this is it," he said.
The committee, eventually composed of 20 people, began meeting in September. Early on they decided who to define as an Islander: a locally registered voter.
Tim Walsh, chief executive officer at the hospital, gave a presentation on the hospital project at the committee's first meeting.
Committee members all decided to support the campaign. They also committed to hosting 20 by-invitation receptions where Mr. Walsh would give his presentation.
"We're going to have a series of these things through the winter into the spring," Mr. Miller said. At the receptions, participants are being asked for their own suggestions for the new hospital.
Committee members Clarissa Allen of Chilmark and Berta Welch of Aquinnah hosted one of the first receptions, shortly before Christmas.
"It would be irresponsible not to have a good, modern, really functional hospital," Ms. Allen said. While she said the hospital as it now exists was cobbled together over time, she said the proposed reconstruction is very functional and well-planned.
For her, joining the committee was a fun opportunity to work with close friends toward something that will benefit the entire Vineyard community.
The broader Vineyard population will be targeted for donations through Islander campaign advertisements and mailings.
At present, the hospital is housed in sections dating from 1929 and 1972. The hospital has described both buildings as outdated and inefficient. Demand can quickly overwhelm the hospital's relatively few beds.
The hospital is proposing a new two-story wing, partial replacement of the 1929 section, and renovation of the 1972 section. The new wing would house all inpatient rooms, surgery, imaging, outpatient services and the emergency department. The 1972 wing would house physician and hospital administration offices. The number of licensed beds at the hospital would rise from 19 to 25.
Mr. Miller, who retired in 2002, said he sees his participation in the capital campaign as a way "to give back to the Island that my wife and I love."