MOUNT DESERT — Mount Desert Island Hospital has recognized Maine Seacoast Mission as a 2022 Healthcare Partner of the Year. The award recognizes the Mission’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics and telemedicine programs during the pandemic.
In 2021, the Mission administered 928 COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters on seven unbridged islands in addition to its traditional Island Health work done via the Sunbeam, the nonprofit’s 74-foot-long vessel.
Mission President John Zavodny and Director of Island Health Sharon Daley, who spearheaded the Mission’s vaccination program with Director of Island Outreach Douglas Cornman, accepted the award at the 125th Anniversary Community Celebration at the Bar Harbor Club on Sept. 7.
“The Maine Seacoast Mission has been a dedicated, committed partner in providing healthcare to our outer island populations through telehealth and in-person visits. Their unique service model brings care to island residents who would otherwise not have access to care, and this is vital to their health and wellbeing. Throughout the pandemic, the Maine Seacoast Mission was a faithful partner to MDI Hospital, and we thank them for their dedication, commitment and service,” MDI Hospital President/CEO Christina Maguire said.
The Mission started working on a plan to vaccinate the island residents in early 2021.
“When vaccinations first became available in January, people on the islands started calling and emailing, asking me if I could vaccinate them,” Daley said.
Soon after, Daley and the Mission began working with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to become an official vaccine provider. A little over a month later, on Feb. 25, the Mission started vaccinating people during a clinic on Swan’s Island. Over the next three months, the Mission fully vaccinated 343 people and conducted 20 clinics, traveling by ferry, airplane, mailboat, lobster boat and on the Sunbeam.
Daley said that MDI Hospital was invaluable in the Mission’s vaccination efforts. “MDI Hospital made it possible for us to do COVID vaccines on seven islands. It was a huge undertaking and we managed it with the support of MDI Hospital. The pharmacists were busy but always paused to answer my questions and give us support,” said. Daley. “One islander recently told us how their island felt so cared for during the pandemic. Both the vaccine recipients and the Mission thank MDI Hospital for its contributions to our work.”
The vaccination clinics were a team effort with Zavodny doing intake and processing, Daley, assisted by nurses Maureen Giffin and Peggy Akers, administering vaccines and Cornman recording vaccinations into the Maine CDC’s database. Rounding out the group in the effort were the Sunbeam crew, Captain Mike Johnson, engineer Storey King and steward Jillian. Daley and Cornman handled planning for each island, coordinating transportation, finding a vaccination location and bringing in all supplies needed.
In addition to the work vaccinating island residents, the Mission also partnered with Maine Mobile Health Program and Mano en Mano to vaccinate people living in Washington County at its Cherryfield campus. During two clinics held in April and May, 112 people were vaccinated. The Mission continues to hold clinics and administer vaccines and boosters when needed to meet community need. Most recently, the Mission held another clinic in Cherryfield in July.