Nantucket Cottage Hospital Awards $500,000 to Nantucket Interfaith Council for Emergency Medical Travel Fund
Nantucket Cottage Hospital announced this week that it has awarded a $500,000 grant to the Nantucket Interfaith Council for the creation of an endowed Emergency Medical Travel Fund to assist low-income island residents in accessing medical services that require off-island travel. The grant is one of the largest distributed to date through the hospital’s Community Health Initiative, which seeks to address the island’s most pressing health issues through collaborative, innovative, and sustainable programs. The Community Health Initiative grant funds are available through the private donations to Nantucket Cottage Hospital’s capital campaign for the island’s new hospital. As a state-approved capital project, the hospital is required to invest 5 percent of the total project cost in improving community health outside the walls of the hospital.
For patients in need of highly specialized medical care off-island, the additional burden of travel expenses can create a significant hardship and present a barrier to care for many Nantucket residents. The $500,000 grant to the Nantucket Interfaith Council, which operates Nantucket Food, Fuel, & Rental Assistance, will establish an endowed fund with the Community Foundation for Nantucket that will provide funds to applicants who meet certain income requirements to cover the costs associated with off-island travel for medical care. Access to care was one of the four priority health needs areas identified in the Community Health Improvement Plan known as Healthy Nantucket 2020 which was drafted in 2017 and has served as a roadmap to guide the investment of the hospital’s Community Health Initiative funds.
“This grant will support access to care for some of our most vulnerable patients when they need medical services that are only available off-island and it is a wonderful use of the funds available through the hospital’s Community Health Initiative,” said Gary Shaw, President & CEO of Nantucket Cottage Hospital. “On behalf of the hospital community I want to thank both the Interfaith Council for being willing to take on this important work, and also recognize the generous donors who, through their gifts to the NCH capital campaign, have provided the funds for our Community Health Initiative. We are also grateful to the many volunteers and island residents who have been part of the grant evaluation process and helped us decide where and how to invest these funds to improve the health of our community. We contracted with the Community Foundation for Nantucket five years ago to manage this grants process, and we appreciate how they have coordinated this effort on our behalf.”
Nantucket Cottage Hospital previously administered several similar travel funds for low-income island residents that were funded through community donations, but in recent years traditional fundraising for these travel funds had slowed and depleted the accounts. The Nantucket Interfaith Council, which has a proven track record of administering grants to individuals and families in need of assistance, represented a robust community partner willing to step forward with a proposal to expand its offerings through its proposal to the Community Health Initiative. Nantucket Cottage Hospital, along with dozens of community volunteers involved in the review process, saw the Council’s grant application as an exciting opportunity to permanently endow a travel fund that will have lasting impact in improving access to care for islanders.
“This grant will allow the Nantucket Interfaith Council to expand its ongoing work to assist island residents in need and enhance our support of the Nantucket community,” said Rev. Max Wolf, of St. Paul’s Church, who serves as the President of the Interfaith Council. “We know how important access to care is for all Nantucketers, and these funds will help ease the burden of travel expenses and help remove that barrier for those who qualify. I want to thank Nantucket Cottage Hospital and the many community volunteers who participated in reviewing and approving our grant application.”
The Nantucket Cottage Hospital Community Health Initiative is focused on four areas: behavioral health; women’s and children’s health; access to healthcare; and access to housing. These priorities were identified by the island community during a comprehensive process begun in 2017 that included public forums, and prioritization sessions. These health priorities were then reconfirmed in 2018 during a public forum open to the community.
The grant to the Nantucket Interfaith Council will be distributed through The NCH Community Health Fund, a donor advised fund of the Community Foundation for Nantucket, which collaborated with Nantucket Cottage Hospital throughout the grantmaking process and provided administrative support.