Northern Maine Community College Nursing students participated in a reception on April 24 at the Aroostook House of Comfort as part of a room dedication in their honor.
The NMCC Nursing students have a special interest in the end-of-life/hospice care facility which was built to accommodate dying patients and their families. Their ties to this unique type of care goes back to a very a special instructor who each of them worked with as part of their academic studies.
NMCC Nursing instructor, Janet Durgin MSN, RN, NE-BC, LSW, has worked with hospice patients since 1983 when she was the Clinical Director of Visiting Nurses of Aroostook. Since that time, she has also helped students understand the differences of caring for a patient in the final stages of their lives. To that end, when Susan Dugal RN MSN, NMCC Nursing faculty and past SNA advisor, was pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she wanted to explore a greater understanding of end-of-life care and connected with Janet who also became her mentor at that time.
It was no surprise that when the Student Nurses’ Association first approached Dugal about providing a donation to the Aroostook House of Comfort that she was very supportive. Dugal says that the association has probably donated $2,500 – $3,000 over the course of several years to this cause.
“We were honored to hear that the medication room at the Aroostook House of Comfort would be dedicated to SNA,” said Dugal. “End-of-life care is the epitome of nursing. It does not require fancy technology or great medical discoveries. It requires the basic attributes and skills of a nurse – the science of caring – touch, compassion, comfort, empathy, and meeting the holistic needs of the patient and family so that those last days of life are lived in comfort and peace.”
At the heart of the Aroostook House of Comfort, is Rick and Nancy Duncan. When Rick’s mother was passing, she had a lot of pain and discomfort. As fate would have it, Janet was at the hospital during a very challenging day and came to her room. Rick asked Janet, “Is there no better way?”
In fact, as a long time hospice nurse, Janet knew that there was. She proceeded to tell Rick about hospice homes which existed to help patients part with life in a peaceful and loving way, surrounded by family and really excellent caregivers.
That conversation, nine years ago, began a journey that brought Rick and Nancy to where they are today with just a few weeks left ahead of them before the Aroostook facility welcomes its first patient.
Durgin feels that this is a need that has been missing from the healthcare spectrum in Aroostook County and she is happy to see the thoughtfulness and dedication put in to creating this meaningful facility.
“The House will give a place where patients and families can embrace the hospice philosophy and give patients and families the support they need in an environment that is not available anywhere else in the County.”
The Aroostook House of Comfort will open its doors at the beginning of May. For more information, visit aroostookhouseofcomfort.com.