Last week Nantucket Cottage Hospital welcomed Deborah Moss-Gail, Nurse Practitioner, as one of the island’s newest family medicine providers at NCH’s primary care clinic.
Prior to joining NCH, Deborah was a professor at Temple University College of Public Health’s Department of Nursing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is joined on Nantucket by her husband, Bryant Gail, and their 18-month old daughter Hannah.
“Nantucket is an incredibly special place to our family,” said Moss-Gail. “My husband’s grandmother lived here for 40 years, so he grew up spending every holiday and summer on the island, now, having the opportunity to practice medicine here and raise our daughter here was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.
As a fluent Spanish speaker, Deborah spent nearly a decade practicing medicine in Federally Qualified Health Centers, providing care to underserved populations in North Philadelphia.
“I’ve worked in underserved communities where immigration status and language barriers inhibited patients from seeking care and it really presents a unique challenge for both the patients and the providers,” said Moss-Gail. “It demands a level of creativity and commitment to the patient, to really understand them and their individual needs, so I’m really looking forward to learning more about our community’s health needs.”
After years of caring for diverse communities with their own unique barriers to care, Deborah is quick to acknowledge the limits of her own understanding of underserved communities.
“Putting yourself in a position to learn and listen is the best place to start when joining a new community,” said Deborah. “Patients need someone that will listen to them, understand them, and value what they care about.”
For Deborah, while the longstanding connections to Nantucket were a strong factor for making this island her new home, the potential of working with the diverse array of patients that call Nantucket home was the single greatest factor motivating her.
“That’s real primary care, and it’s what excites me the most coming here, applying that creativity and willingness to learn, to find treatments and work with patients to find solutions that work best for them,” said Deborah.
“Deborah’s addition to Nantucket Cottage Hospital comes at a time when we’re redesigning primary care here on Nantucket,” said Gary Shaw, President and CEO of Nantucket Cottage Hospital. “With Deborah in our clinic, we’re able to expand the number of appointments available to the public, reduce wait times and fulfill our commitment to every member of our community, by having a primary care provider uniquely able to understand our diverse community and provide the care best suited for each individual patient.”
Debbie Dolan thought she had seen it all when after 30 years as a nurse, she was asked to step in to briefly support a hospice program in North Central Pennsylvania.
“I remember being so resistant to the idea of working in hospice, thinking ‘oh no I don’t want to do that!’” said Dolan. “But the first day I was there, I loved it. It was like being hit over the head and realizing I found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Now, after 15 years working in palliative care and hospice, Dolan has been selected to lead Nantucket’s Palliative Care program supported by PASCON, as the program’s newest director. As the new director, Dolan will lead a team of health care specialists dedicated to providing physical, psychological and spiritual care to individuals on Nantucket with life-threatening illness as well as their families, at no cost to the patient.
“This position really is a gift. It took me 30 years to find this passion, and now I’m here with an opportunity to give back to the community, to hear people’s stories, to protect them, respect them and carry their legacy on. That’s an honor,” said Dolan.
For Dolan, joining the organization in the wake of a global pandemic has presented a number of opportunities she hopes to capitalize on moving forward.
“We’ve seen so much of our lives transition to online platforms over this last year, and it’s provided us with a new avenue to reach patients and families where they’re most comfortable,” said Dolan. “We’ve created virtual cancer support groups, our clinical psychologist holds regular caregiver and bereavement support groups over Zoom and our clinicians have adapted to meeting patients and families virtually.”
While advances made in virtual communication have helped facilitate many of the interactions Palliative Care has become known for throughout the pandemic, Dolan believes that the core work of Palliative Care doesn’t rely on any one medium, but rather the relationships its staff has been able to build throughout the community.
“Palliative care is about serious illness care. It’s about working with a patient, their family and their care team so that they can realize their goals and live the kind of life they’re looking for,” said Dolan. “So much of that work revolves around face-to-face meetings where a patient lets us into their life and we learn about their values, their hopes and the life they want to live, then having the difficult conversations around how to get our patients where they want to be.”
Regardless of the medium, the central role of Palliative Care and PASCON revolves around one major tenet; ensuring patients are able to plan for and live the kind of lives they desire.
“The goal is always to meet people wherever they need us, whether it’s in a clinic, here in the hospital or in their home, and figure out how they want to live their lives,” said Dolan. “Once we can help a patient answer that, we’re on the path to delivering the kind of high-quality, personalized care that everyone in this community deserves.”
Funded by the Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket Foundation, the Palliative & Support Care Program is operated as a department of the Nantucket Cottage Hospital. To learn more about PASCON or the Palliative & Supportive Care Program and its free services, please visit pascon.org or call (508) 825-8325.
A statement from Gary Shaw, President and CEO of Nantucket Cottage Hospital:
(June 10, 2021) This year was to have been the 25th anniversary of The Boston Pops on Nantucket in support of the Nantucket Cottage Hospital. While we hoped to bring this event back to Nantucket this summer, after consulting with the Town we have made the difficult decision to postpone celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Pops to 2022. All of the Island’s resources are stretched while we are re-adjusting to a post-COVID world. It has been a difficult 15 months for NCH and the loss of financial support from the Pops presents another real challenge. We are grateful for the support of our donors during this time. We look forward to bringing The Pops back to Nantucket on August 13, 2022, better than ever.
The Pillars of Excellence Awards recognizes the outstanding contributions of our employees from across the Mass General Brigham system. Individuals and teams are nominated by their co-workers for going “above and beyond the call of duty” in the areas of:
- Commitment to an Exceptional Patient Experience – providing quality, coordinated and compassionate care.
- Optimizing Collaboration – among and across individuals, teams and the system.
- Enhancing Efficiency – achieving outstanding outcomes with resourceful approaches.
- Advancing Innovation & Progress – leading the development and implementation of new ideas.
- Fostering Community – improving the health and well-being of our colleagues and neighbors.
- Integrating Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – engaging each other with intention and enriching our work environment.
Please join us in congratulating the Nantucket Cottage Hospital Recipients of the 2020 Pillars of Excellence Awards!
Watch the video of the livestreamed presentation by clicking here.
Early this morning, Emergency Department Physician Assistant Maria Carey became the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Nantucket Cottage Hospital. This is a monumental day in our fight against the pandemic. The vaccine is the most important intervention that will help us bring COVID-19 under control and get us back to normal. Over the next few days we will vaccinate our first 40 staff members and will continue holding employee vaccination clinics until all staff who want to be vaccinated are able to do so. We want to thank the team that has pulled together to begin providing vaccinations to staff, and all of you for your perseverance over the past 10 months. We still have work to do and we must remain vigilant, but today is time to celebrate this important step in bringing the pandemic to an end.