Featured Story

A Home on the Island: To go, or not to go

Well, that was the question on an early Friday evening a few weeks ago.

Our family had been enjoying a perfect “staycation” week and was coming off three consecutive days of exploring East End towns and enjoying meals in Sag Harbor and Montauk. That Friday night we decided to stay in and cook dinner at home.

We had vegetables from Sylvester Manor, and a fresh catch from Shelter Island Seafood to grill up. Thanks to the recommendation of a family member, we also had a new recipe to try — smashed potatoes. There are plenty of variations of this recipe out there, so feel free to look one up and get creative, but essentially the dish calls for boiling small Yukon gold and red new potatoes in a pot of salted water.

After that they are drained and placed on a baking sheet to be “smashed” or pushed down slightly with a fork or potato masher, drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and any other seasoning you prefer (parmesan, garlic, butter, chives, rosemary, paprika) followed by about 25-30 minutes in a 425 degrees Fahrenheit oven.

After a long day at the beach, the kids were bathed, the potatoes were roasting, and the zucchini was grilled to perfection. In other words, an ideal night on Shelter Island and a perfect, local meal just about ready to be served.

Once ready, I started to pull the potatoes out of our wall oven, when I felt the increasing burn on the finger tips of my right hand. Unbeknownst to me, the oven mitt I was using had a slight crack in the rubber padding, just enough to allow the heat to start to penetrate my fingers.

To compensate for the burning, I adjusted the baking tray so that the weight of the tray would fall to my left hand. Unfortunately, upon doing so, the tray, (which was coming out of a built-in wall oven, above chest height), tilted enough to send all of that hot, bubbling olive oil off the back corner of the tray and down my left forearm.

It found its way to the inside crook of my elbow (technically called the “Cubital Fossa”) until I dropped the tray on the stovetop (didn’t lose a single potato, I will have you know).

What followed was not only a state of shock and pain, but also the anxiety of: Should I go seek medical treatment, or not? On Shelter Island, unless it’s a clear, dire emergency, this questions is usually followed by several minutes of frantic Google searching (should you seek emergency medical treatment for …? What are the hours of City MD? How long will it take to drive to Cutchogue?)

The conveniently located ProHealth Office at Shelter Island’s Medical Center is not a walk-in clinic by the way, and had also closed at 4 p.m. Sag Harbor had a few medical walk-in clinics that we found, all closed by 4:30.

The Southampton Urgent Medical Care facility had already closed at 5. So, looking at the time — approx. 7 p.m. on a Friday in the summer — how realistic was the possibility that I would make it to Cutchogue before their 8 p.m. closing time? Northwell Health Urgent Care in Bridgehampton also closed at 8 … 

What is a mother with second-degree burns to do? All of the aforementioned GoogleMaps gave me an ETA of just about 8 p.m. in either direction, pushing it a little too close to closing time.

Based on logistical constraints, my only option was to either drive to the Farmingville location of City MD (open until 11 p.m.) or visit the Emergency Room. I didn’t feel like the burn was really an ER level of injury, but left with few other options, took the ferry over to the Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport.

Door to door, the drive took about 35 minutes and about two hours at the hospital. All of that time for something that maybe could have waited until the morning? Again, rethinking that “to go or not to go” decision.

If it had been a true medical emergency, I’ve no doubts in the response time, preparedness and care that would have been provided by the local Shelter Island EMS. This all-volunteer squad, funded by the Town, is continually recognized for their outstanding service to the residents and visitors of the Island.

In fact, the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation (siambulancefoundation.org) is a 501 © (3) registered charity with a mission to serve our community through financial support to recruit, train and re-train the volunteers who respond to 911 emergencies. They also secure capital funds necessary for the purchase of specialized medical equipment, like ambulances, and all donations stay on Shelter Island. 

My recommendation is to keep a list of urgent care facilities on hand (check both Forks) and when you finish scouring the internet and making a list of not quite so convenient options, I suggest buying some new oven mitts, and making a donation to the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation.