The Block Island Times

BIHS seeks ways to expand membership rolls

By Lars Trodson | Jun 25, 2013

Members of the Block Island Health Services (BIHS) Membership Committee expressed hope that a year of turmoil and controversy is past, and are now looking for ways to increase the number of BIHS members.

During a meeting held at the medical center on Thursday, June 20, committee member Bill McCombe posed to the group a question on how to specifically engage younger residents of the island.

McCombe said the only incentive for anyone becoming a member of the BIHS was that they “received one thing, the right to vote, but they’re not interested in that.”

It was then that Cindy Baute, newly elected as vice president of the BIHS Board of Directors, said that she hoped a sense of pride would return to the people who donated to the center.

She said that perhaps the group could do a better job of reminding the community that the healthcare providers at BIHS are “ready to help serve you 24/7, 365 days a year.”

McCombe suggested creating some sort of bumper sticker, an idea that member Kay Lewis agreed with. “Something that says ‘I support the BIHS’ is a good idea,” Lewis said. She added that the BIHS provides a “wonderful service here. I don’t know how many lives have been saved here.”

The group finished their discussion by suggesting various letter-writing campaigns and other outreach efforts to recruit new members.

The membership committee also discussed how best to keep private the names of members who do not wish their membership known to the public.

There has been some internal debate at the BIHS as to who should have access to the names on the general membership rolls.

The membership committee felt that the general policy of the BIHS ought to be that anyone who donates would have their name accessible to the Executive Director and the entire board of directors.

But Lewis noted that as many as a dozen people had asked to specifically not have their names made accessible to anyone. “Hopefully, this was an unusual year, and they were concerned about retaliation,” said Lewis. “I hope this is a passing thing and it’s over.”

Because of that, the group agreed that it would be desirable to have an “opt out” box on the donation form that allowed people to keep their identity secret. Lewis said she would craft language of the new donation form and present it to the entire board at its next meeting.

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