Written By: Jason Graziadei

Nantucket’s leading health organizations and the Community Foundation for Nantucket are spearheading a major new behavioral health initiative that will aim to address inadequacies in the delivery and coordination of mental health and substance misuse services on the island.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Fairwinds Counseling Center, and the Cape Cod and Islands chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), along with the Community Foundation, have formed a 15-member steering committee that convened for the first time yesterday. The group announced Tuesday that it is starting with a comprehensive evaluation of the island’s existing behavioral health landscape conducted by a consultant, Government Performance Solutions, Inc., based in Denver, CO. The evaluation will be funded through a grant provided by the Community Foundation to its new Behavioral Health Initiative Fund. The evaluation will allow the steering committee to proceed to the next phase of its effort, a strategic initiative roadmap.

“No single entity can solve this problem,” said Nantucket Cottage Hospital President and CEO Gary Shaw. “It will take alignment, collaboration, and integration to make a difference.”

Behavioral health services have consistently been identified as an urgent need on the island and routinely cited in the hospital’s triennial community health needs assessment as an area lacking in options and access. But numerous efforts over the years that have attempted to bring the major players in the health and human services field together in collaboration have floundered. I asked Margaretta Andrews, executive director of the Community Foundation, why this new initiative might be different.

“It’s a new day,” Andrews said. “We’ve had these conversations many times, but there’s a lot of new players at the table and COVID has created an urgency around this, and brought to light the issues we were pretending did not exist. There’s a difference in perceptions in the community around mental health and substance misuse, so I think this will be much better received. The lines of communication are open.”

The 15-member steering committee includes:

  • Margaretta Andrews, Executive Director, Community Foundation for Nantucket
  • Jennifer Frazee, Executive Director, A Safe Place
  • Libby Gibson, Town Manager, Town of Nantucket
  • Chris Glowacki, Vice President of Strategy and Community Development, Nantucket Cottage Hospital
  • Dr. Beth Hallett, Superintendent, Nantucket Public Schools
  • Dawn Hill Holdgate, Chair, Nantucket Select Board
  • Michael Kellerman, Executive Director (Interim), Fairwinds
  • Jackie Lane, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness Cape Cod and the Islands
  • Dr. Tim Lepore, Addiction Solutions of Nantucket
  • Holly McGowan, Community Member
  • Jim Perelman, Sheriff, Nantucket County Sheriff’s Department
  • William Pittman, Chief of Police, Nantucket Police Department
  • Kevin Ralph, Chief Development and Community Relations Officer, Gosnold Inc.
  • Gary Shaw, President and CEO, Nantucket Cottage Hospital
  • Father Max Wolf, Rector, St. Paul’s Church
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