Delivering the Best Care Close to Home

Maine Medical Center

Dan Wartenberg knows how far the mainland is from Peaks Island. He swam there in 2014 in just over one hour as part of the annual YMCA “Peaks to Portland” race in the chilly waters of Casco Bay. But his typical mode of transportation to the city of Portland is a ferry ride that takes 20 minutes. It has transported him and his wife, Caron Chess, to island life since they made the neighborhood within the city of Portland their year-round home together a few years ago.

Dan cherishes his daily walks along the shore with his dog and going to the café for coffee and snacks. Caron’s favorite season is winter, when the island’s population of artists, retirees and commuters is in the hundreds rather than the thousands it swells to in the summer months. Island life is special to them and where they have chosen to live in retirement from academia.

That’s why they have so much appreciation for the services that make it convenient to access quality health care services close to home, such as the Peaks Island Health Center and Katherine Gilbert, a family nurse practitioner with Maine Medical Partners — the physician practice of Maine Medical Center. Known to her patients as “Kitty,” she jokes that her role at the health center could more accurately be described as a “pediatric geriatrician” with patients aged from newborn to late 90s.

The Peaks Island Health Center is open three days each week, serving full-time residents and seasonal visitors throughout the year. Led by a Board of Directors consisting of volunteers who live on the island, it operates through the generous support of residents and Maine Medical Partners’ in-kind donation of Kitty’s services.

Around the time that Dan became a resident of the island in 2013 at the age of 61, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Since then he has visited the Peaks Island Health Center for regular exams and with Kitty’s guidance accesses the services of specialists on the mainland. He has found a supportive community on the island.

Islanders have been impressed with the strong relationship between the Peaks Island Health Center and MMC, where Caron says Kitty excels as an “appointment wrangler” and as an advocate for their health and well-being.

Kitty describes the relationship with MMC as strong, with access to “a wealth of providers who are very welcoming of our patients.” She noted that Emergency Department personnel at MMC are an important resource back on the mainland and “they are very receptive to our calls.”

Most importantly, Caron said, “We are confident that we are getting the very best care” at Peaks Island Health Center, and enjoying island living.

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