Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

December 7, 2022

Mission accomplished: Island health director retiring after two decades

2 people and stethoscope Courtesy / Maine Seacoast Mission Sharon Daley, right, seen with a patient aboard the telemedicine ship Sunbeam, plans to retire after 22 years as Maine Seacoast Mission’s island health services director.

When Maine Seacoast Mission was preparing to send its telemedicine ship out to five islands in early 2021 to conduct its first COVID-19 vaccination clinics, the mission’s island health services director, Sharon Daley, was paying close attention to the logistics.

“We have to have an accurate count for each island,” Daley said at the time. “And we have to figure out rotation of the islands so we're not ending up short of vaccines or with vaccines left over.”

That attention to detail – and to mission – has made Daley a welcome sight to residents of Maine’s islands and coastal communities for 22 years, a term that is ending with her retirement at the end of this year.

“Sharon Daley has made her mark on both the islands and the Mission,” said Mission President John Zavodny.

Maine Seacoast Mission is a Mount Desert Island nonprofit that dates back over a century and is headquartered in Northeast Harbor. It serves islands and coastal communities aboard its 74-foot boat, Sunbeam.

One of Sunbeam’s most important services is its telemedicine program, which includes equipment and an exam room aboard the boat.

Daley, a registered nurse, practices in the ship's specially outfitted medical suite, administering the telemedicine program, specialty clinics, screenings and inoculations for Frenchboro, Matinicus, Swan's Island and Isle au Haut. 

Daley’s work has landed her in the pages of The Washington Post and Newsweek, and on TV in a national Walgreens ad.  But to the islanders she serves, she is just Sharon: a confidante, friend, fellow islander and someone they can trust.  

Daley came aboard the Sunbeam in 2000, tasked with connecting islands to mainland hospitals and clinics through new telemedicine equipment. 

boats water
The Sunbeam has been Daley’s workplace for 22 years.

“We started with primary care, but it became clear there was a need for behavioral health,” she said.

Once telehealth services were in place, she recognized people could not easily get blood work due to the challenges of getting on and off island. 

“The mission integrated lab draws into the Island Health program, and then the need for flu shots came up. So, we started doing that,” she said. “Then we started a WIC [Women, Infants and Children] program.” 

Daley’s role continued to evolve as more needs were uncovered.

Throughout, her commitment to patients and the islands never wavered. 

“She really cares deeply about people, how they are doing, and what they are doing,” said Douglas Cornman, the mission’s director of island outreach. “She works with them so that they can be healthy, happy and content. She does this tirelessly. I have never seen Sharon say no when someone needs her help or her guidance.” 

Over the years, Daley has focused on all aspects of living and aging on an island. Part of her work was founding and facilitating the Island Eldercare Network. The network brings together island residents and health care providers who work with older adults on the islands to share resources, network and continue to aid those who wish to stay on island. 

When Daley saw there was a need to connect islanders with mental health resources, she contacted local providers and facilitated telemedicine visits on the Sunbeam. When the pandemic struck, Daley worked with the Maine Center for Disease Control to ensure islanders had access to vaccinations – work that was later featured in newspapers across the country. 

“She has always provided a high level of health care and personal support and she does it a perfect blend of candor, compassion and smarts,” said Zavodny.

Daley’s job is 24/7 and she always answers calls from patients, even in the middle of the night, noted Michael Johnson, the Sunbeam’s captain.

“The relationships she has built with islanders means many come to her in their toughest moments,” he added.

Being available nights and weekends to help folks having a problem is part of the job, said Daley.

“Helping people transition throughout their lives is meaningful in their lives and for me,” she said. “Be it setting up hospice care or working with agencies to assist in providing services, having a relationship with a patient requires their trust. That has been most rewarding.”

Maine Seacoast Mission plans to hire a new Sunbeam nurse. Interested applicants can click here.

Maine Seacoast Mission, founded in 1905, seeks to strengthen coastal and island communities by educating youth, supporting families, and promoting good health. It offers health care, education, food, shelter and spiritual support by land and by sea. 

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF