The Block Island Times

Telemedicine already serving community

By Gloria S. Redlich | Feb 13, 2013

Since a telemedicine network was established last month between the island and a Brown University/Butler Hospital psychiatrist, six island residents have begun consulting a physician through the communication network.

Caseworker Tracy Fredericks reported these numbers to the Mental Health Task Force at its meeting on February 6. While the first telemedicine facility was set up at the Harbor Church, a second is being created at the Medical Center, and patients will have a choice of locations.

With the entrance to the Medical Center office directly from the rear parking lot, individuals will have easy access to the facility. All inquiries and exchanges of information are strictly confidential. Those wishing information or interested in making appointments should call Fredericks at (207) 229-6349 or contact her at

Other issues on the task force agenda included consideration of a film by Joe Pantoliano entitled “No Kidding! Me 2!” The documentary deals with the actor’s struggle with mental illness and the stigma attached with it. Those who had seen the film discussed its appropriateness for high school students.

One view was that it was too fragmented and its content too “highly sexual” for a young audience. Another outlook was that rather than being fragmented, it focused on the lives of several individuals struggling with mental illness and consequently was “OK for high school students to watch.”

Chair Steve Hollaway suggested that the group sponsor a showing of “Silver Linings Playbook” when it is released on DVD in March. Because the film is being nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor, and is already being used to promote public understanding of mental illness, Hollaway thought it should be shown on island.

Considering non-profit status, the group planned to approach the Block Island Ecumenical Ministries, which manages funding (for the Roosa Foundation and the Mary D Fund), to make a case for it supporting the Task Force. Hollaway pointed out that there was a long history of churches doing outreach in support of mental health care within communities.

Finally, Socha Cohen suggested that the task force might look into developing a bereavement group — to help people suffering from loss in many different ways: death, divorce, a loss of jobs, etc. After some discussion, the group concluded that the Senior Advisory coordinator might be interested in organizing such a group.

The next meeting was scheduled for March 6 at 9 a.m.

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