The Working Waterfront

North Haven nurse brings urban experience to island

Nurse practitioner and educator Lorraine Reiser bringing decades of experience

Courtney Naliboff
Posted 2015-11-23
Last Modified 2015-11-23

North Haven’s newest health care practitioner will be able to compare the urban version of medicine with the isolated, rural version. Nurse practitioner and educator Lorraine Reiser is bringing her decades of experience to North Haven to the island medical clinic.

Although she commutes between Pittsburgh, her longtime home, and the island, she and her husband will soon move to the Rockland area.

“What has allowed me to make this big change is that all of our children have their BA and a full time job and their own house,” she said.

Reiser studied nursing at Villanova and found work as a nursing teacher across the state in Pittsburgh. After a few years she became a nurse practitioner and practiced in the Pittsburgh area for nearly two decades. She eventually became director of Carlisle College’s nurse practitioner program and earned her PhD at University of Pittsburgh.

Reiser anticipates health challenges on North Haven similar to those she saw in the city.

“I think helping people take care of themselves is the same no matter where you’re doing it,” she said. “Just because it’s rural vs. urban doesn’t mean you don’t have the same financial or motivational issues.”

Access to care was a frustrating issue for Reiser in Pittsburgh, one she sees echoed on North Haven.

“Here, I need to make decisions based on, well, can they get across on the ferry? It’s a different set of things, but when I was in an urban setting I just called 911 and that was it,” she said. “Having to be the medical provider until they get to the mainland is different, but not significantly.”

Reiser worked with diverse communities in Pennsylvania, from Nepali immigrants to Mennonite and Amish women, whom she helped as a labor and delivery nurse.

“Consistency is the theme in that you need to find out what is most important to the patients and help them make healthy choices for themselves, or to improve their health,” she said. “I think the most important thing to offer your patients is information to help them make choices that are good for them,” she said.

Reiser is eager to work with North Haven islanders in part because she sees them as physically active.

“I’m excited to have a community that is excited about their own health care. That’s intriguing. I think because it’s isolated by geographic means that people are a little more self sufficient and a little more proactive,” she said.

Spinning wool into yarn, gardening and cooking are high on Reiser’s list of hobbies to resume as she settles into Maine.

“I’m a rural girl at heart and I’m excited to get back into it,” she said.

Her schedule, with one week of full-time coverage, including office hours and 24-hour emergency availability, alternating with one week completely off duty, is wonderful, she said, and will allow her time to complete large fiber arts projects.

“Whatever home I choose here has to accommodate a few looms. And I did bring my spinning wheel with me. I’m looking forward to maybe doing a couple of rugs or some shawls,” she said.

“I’m happy to be here because I think it’ll be a new, exciting next chapter in my life,” Reiser said. “I’ve been saying for a long time that I wanted to be the NP in the middle of nowhere and I think I may have achieved it.”