Mayo Regional Hospital celebrates 40th anniversary

DOVER-FOXCROFT — A look at the past four decades serving the region and a look to the future of helping the community were both features of the 40th anniversary celebration for Mayo Regional Hospital on the afternoon of Monday, April 9 in the Resource Center.

After two years of construction and prior years of planning to consolidate three hospitals to a single facility, a 52-bed acute care hospital opened on April 2, 1978 when HAD 4 board member Hap Gerrish, DMD was given the ceremonial first key from the architect and declared the new Mayo Regional Hospital open.

In her opening remarks at the 40th anniversary celebration, Mayo Regional Hospital President & CEO Marie Vienneau said the hospital opened as regional facility for 13 towns across the region as HAD 4. She said Bob McReavy served as the first hospital CEO.

“We are so pleased Mr. McReavy could be with us today,” Vienneau said in introducing the first CEO. She said he served in the position until retiring in 1992.

Hospital Board of Trustees Chair Amanda Thomas then recognized board members past and present. “Thanks to all of you for guiding healthcare in our communities,” she said.

Thomas then thanked the founding HAD 4 communities. She said the municipal leaders can see “a regional medical center is needed and is still needed in the Maine Highlands.”

“Happy birthday Mayo Regional Hospital and here’s to best wishes for 40 more years,” Thomas concluded.

Rep. Norm Higgins, I-Dover-Foxcroft presented hospital officials with a Legislative Sentiment on behalf of himself and Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville and Rep. Paul Stearns, R-Guilford.

“40 years ago I was in my first term on the Dover-Foxcroft board of selectmen and we had a private tour before the opening,” Higgins said. He said at the time he could tell that Mayo Regional Hospital was being built for what were then the needs of the future.

Higgins said in 2001 and 2004 he was elected to the HAD 4 board of directors “and some exciting things took place at that time.” He mentioned an addition to the emergency room and surgical wings along with critical access care and the improvement of family practices.

“We established an opportunity for the hospital to prosper over 10, 12, 15 years,” he said. Higgins said the current administrators face new challenges and are working to keep the hospital viable.

Dr. Lesley Fernow, who retired last year, said she came to Mayo Regional Hospital not long after its opening in 1979.

“That was an exciting time,” Fernow said. She said that McReavy and Dr. Gerrish were working to bring in doctors from all over the country to provide “the best quality medical staff and the best quality medical care” despite the small hospital size and rural location. These recruitment efforts helped create jobs, provide high quality care and build community.

Dr. Fernow said Mayo Regional Hospital has evolved in its 40 years with the addition of an intensive care unit, 24-hour care, high quality imaging clinics, an ER now serving 12,000 patients annually, a modern oncology unit, outpatient surgery and substance abuse programs expanded to provide comprehensive mental health services. She said in 1979 Mayo Regional Hospital had one physical therapist and this number is now at a dozen.

“When I came here there were nine positions on staff, we now have 32 practitioners on staff,” Dr. Fernow said. “We have a lot of mid-level providers.”

She said the hospital is still committed to a vision of building community and providing high quality medical care. “We all won’t be here in 40 years but Mayo will be here in some fashion,” Dr. Fernow said.

American Hospital Association Regional Director Jack Barry presented a 40th anniversary proclamation.

During Maine Hospital Association President Steven Michaud’s ensuing remarks a chime could be heard. Michaud and members of the audience unfamiliar with the sound were then told that a baby had just been delivered.

Michaud said the timing was appropriate because the birth is part of the care that Mayo Regional Hospital is all about. He said the new baby is a very happy occasion, “We are taking care of people in the most vulnerable parts of their life” including sickness and injury.

“That’s what we do, the only thing we do,” he said. “What other organization in our society has that mission?”

“As we look to the next 40 years there isn’t any doubt we are facing challenges that are unprecedented in rural Maine,” Michaud said. He then asked those present to remember why the hospital is in place and said this reason is worth fighting for.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
40 YEARS FOR MAYO REGIONAL HOSPITAL — Mayo Regional Hospital President & CEO Marie Vienneau speaks at the start of a 40th anniversary celebration for the facility in Dover-Foxcroft on Monday, April 9. Mayo Regional Hospital opened its doors with a ceremony on April 2, 1978 to serve the then 13 member towns of HAD 4. The 40th anniversary celebration featured a look back at the last four decades and a look to the hospital’s future of serving the region.

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