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Nantucket Cottage Hospital

Caring for Future Generations: The Plight of Nantucket Cottage Hospital

The planning stages have begun in what will surely be a long process toward bringing a new hospital to residents.

I admit it, I'm not a native. My parents came to Nantucket on my sixth birthday from my hometown a short distance outside Boston. But two of my siblings are natives. Thirty miles at sea, they were born at Nantucket Cottage Hospital in the late 80s and early 90s.

It is amazing that for more than 50 years NCH has managed to accommodate the ever-increasing needs of the island and its residents. At the time it was built in 1957, the hospital catered to a year round population of no more than 5,000 and a summer population that was certainly a far cry less than it is today.

As many of you reading this piece are aware, NCH and its parent companies Mass General and Partners Healthcare, are trying to bring a new hospital facility to Nantucket. This past Monday evening, the hospital hosted an information and question and answer session fort residents at the Faregrounds Public Safety Building. The hospital's CEO Dr. Margot Hartmann led the charge of senior hospital staff explaining the need for a new Nantucket facility, and having been there, it is hard not to agree with the points they made and their impending plan of action.

The underlying theme in the plea for the new facility is that our current one is simply too small and too antiquated to adequately care for the island's current and growing population. Dr. Tim Lepore and others stood before a packed audience on Monday illustrating with anecdote after anecdote the deficiencies of the current facility.

While the majority of those present, seemed (through their participation in the question and answer period) aware of the need for a new facility, some were at odds with the current "best option" for a new hospital. The site favored by hospital leadership and staff, known as Wyers Valley, is currently owned by the Wannacomet Water Company. This property entered the discussion in recent months altering the original plan to utilize the current Prospect Street location.

Several who approached the microphone seemed concerned about the disruption of Wyers Valley's 40 acre ecosystem, while others were less clear on their reasons to oppose the plan. As with any plan to build on Nantucket, some abutters will most certainly be opposed to this location no matter what the benefit.

Some questioned what would become of the current property were the Wyers Valley plan to come to fruition. Lepore speaking off-hand said he is aware of a need for a new elementary school in the near future, but I think most would agree that property would be highly desirable for multiple interests, and a debate on that subject alone will surely take place.

This meeting lasted several hours in front of a fully engaged audience, but make no mistake, this is the beginning of the conversation and a completed new hospital (no matter where it is) is certainly several years away.

The best way to ensure the result and the facility you'd like to see, is to become engaged, attend future gatherings of this sort and vote at Town Meeting. Then, someday hopefully soon, Nantucket will have the hospital it needs and deserves.

What are your thoughts concerning the plan for a new Nantucket Cottage Hospital? Make your point in the comment field below.