This commentary was published in the Ellsworth American on March 1, 2012
You may know Hancock County HomeCare & Hospice by its previous name, Four Town Nursing. Some folks still call Hancock County HomeCare & Hospice, “Four Town Nursing”. It was in the spring of 1931, when gasoline was 10 cents a gallon and the world was riveted by the great depression that Edward Linscott, the superintendent of schools for Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville and Sedgwick, gathered local community members to request the formation of a nursing service. Despite the devastating effects of the economy and the suffering in rural areas members of our community saw through the hardship of this time and made a commitment to provide nursing care to community members within their homes.
Eastern Maine General Hospital’s graduate Pauline Grover was hired as the first nurse. A desk and phone were graciously provided by Dr. Raymond Bliss of Blue Hill Memorial Hospital. Without a formal name, and with very few resources, Pauline began providing the community with much needed home health services with the simplest of tools.
In the early days, the nurses were primarily responsible for helping new mothers and babies, providing care to elders and treating people with infectious diseases. The demand for these visits grew steadily and more and more support swelled from the local communities. Four Town Nursing grew to serve all of Hancock County and in 1995 changed its name to Hancock County HomeCare in order to better represent the service area Four Town Nurses had grown to encompass.
Today, 80 years later, with gasoline now at almost 4 dollars a gallon a typical homecare staff member will drive over 300 miles a week. Home health nursing has expanded to include caring for patients from 6 months of age to our eldest of citizens. With shorter stays in hospitals today what used to be a week long hospitalization for many procedures is now done on an outpatient basis so you are home the same day. Luckily, home care staff members are armed with laptops, medical equipment, lab supplies, and expert clinical skills. Home health nursing and therapy staff help facilitate recovery from complex and chronic conditions. Nurses provide IV therapy, wound treatments, teaching and training of medication management, tube feedings, catheter and ostomy care, oxygen initiation, tracheostomy care and end of life care. In addition, Hancock County Homecare and Hospice can monitor a patient’s vital signs, weight, medical symptoms, and medications remotely using a telehealth monitor. This small device transmits key medical information to a nurse who then can follow up on any changes that need to be given to a medical provider. The goal of having such a tool at hand is to prevent unnecessary return trips to the hospital.
From the beginning, the staff has cared for terminally ill patients. However, in 1998 a formal Medicare hospice program was adopted at Hancock County Homecare & Hospice. This team centered approach focuses on end of life care for patients and their families in their homes, in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The hospice care includes both medical and emotional support to patient and his or her family. The goal is to manage end of life symptoms in order for a patient to close their life with dignity and comfort surrounded by family and friends.
The nurses, therapists, medical social workers, home health aides, and chaplain help our neighbors and friends remain in the comfort of their homes.
Yes, 80 years is a long time and there no doubt will be further advances in healthcare. What will remain the same will be the care, comfort, smiles, support and skill that each of our team members can bring to you in your home.