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At 88, Swans Island resident John Wheaton enjoys the peace and quiet of island living. What he does not like however is the time and money it takes to run a simple errand to the mainland. But thanks to a new service offered at the island’s health clinic, one important errand that Mr. Wheaton runs can be done in a matter of minutes versus the daylong expedition he previously had to undertake.
Mr. Wheaton, like a significant number of Swans Island residents, needs his blood drawn for health tests. Blood testing is done on patients with conditions such as diabetes, high-cholesterol, and for patients on blood thinners. Until recently, if they needed blood drawn more than twice a month when MDI Hospital physicians visit, islanders had to catch a ferry to MDI.
The cost of the ferry tickets, gas, and food, not to mention the time, are no small inconvenience for islanders. "The expense of a trip to the mainland is a lot, but more so, at my age, 88 years old, going to the mainland is very tiring,” said Mr. Wheaton.
Last year, however, Swans Island conducted a survey of its residents to determine what healthcare services would be of the greatest benefit to the island. The survey was conducted in preparation for a new clinic, which will not be open until early next year.
“The number one response was blood draws,” said island resident Donna Wiegle, who as a Medical Technologist is volunteering her time to provide the service.
After a conversation with MDI Hospital representatives, Ms. Wiegle arranged to receive training from Hospital Lab Manager Doug Dufault to renew her phlebotomy skills. “We talked about obstacles and logistics and he helped me figure out how best to make this happen.”
Phlebotomy service is now offered every Tuesday from 7:30 am to 9 am at the island clinic located in Atlantic Apartments.
Blood is sent via ferry and courier to MDI Hospital where it is tested in the lab and results are sent to back to the patient via his or her physician. “Just the convenience the service will offer to those who use it, makes it worthwhile,” added Ms. Wiegle.
For patients on blood thinners, the results are sent to the Hospital’s new “Coag,” or anticoagulation clinic, where registered nurse Jean Bell provides consultation to the patients by phone. Because of the challenge of maintaining proper blood levels, this clinic was established to help patients on blood thinners understand and manage their own health.
 “Word is getting around the island about the service and I think it will continue to increase over time, especially as we get into the summer season,” said Ms. Wiegle. “I already have 3 more patients lined up for blood work. I feel that it will be a successful endeavor.”
Swans Island residents like Mr. Wheaton agree. “Being able to have my blood drawn on the island is a wonderful thing.”

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