Today, its 74-foot steel-hulled Sunbeam V is staffed with a registered nurse and equipped with state-of-the-art telemedicine technologies that allow islanders to have virtual visits with mainland doctors, mental health providers and substance abuse counselors year-round. The organization spent $800,000 on island services in fiscal 2018, which also included some educational and worship activities.
The Sunbeam serves Matinicus Isle and nine other islands not connected to the mainland by bridges. Ninety percent of the islands’ 2,700 residents use the Sunbeam’s healthcare services. While telemedicine appointments with mainland providers are billed to patients’ insurance, all of the Sunbeam’s staff services are free to islanders.
The Sunbeam and its crew of five take three-day trips out to the islands to provide healthcare services every two weeks, and while they have a schedule for when they’ll visit certain islands, a trip rarely goes as planned, said Sharon Daley, a registered nurse who works on the boat and is director of island health services. The schedule depends on the wind, weather, tides and the various schedules of providers. “There is really no typical,” she said.