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Gov. Mills visits Piscataquis County to discuss community challenges

This visit is part of the governor's new initiative to visit counties across Maine to learn about their individual challenges and discuss possible solutions.

PISCATAQUIS COUNTY, Maine — On Wednesday, Gov. Janet Mills met with healthcare, business, and community leaders in Piscataquis County. 

The first stop of the tour through the Moosehead Lake Region was at the Northern Light CA Dean Hospital in Greenville. Mills met with hospital executives to discuss the facility's challenges during the pandemic and new projects in the works. 

Marie Vienneau, president of CA Dean Hospital, said the hospital faced a number of struggles in the last couple of years.

"We didn't have the technology that other more modern facilities had, like negative air pressure, private rooms, things that we had to adapt in order to be able to care for patients during the pandemic," Vienneau said. 

But those setbacks are about to change. Last week, construction began for a new project that will bring life-saving resources to this rural community.

"It will have five acute care beds, 24-hour emergency services, as well as all the radiology [and] laboratory services to support the operations of the emergency department," Vienneau said.

Next, the governor stopped at several businesses in Greenville village, including Indian Hill Trading Post, before heading to another Northern Light healthcare facility in Monson. 

David McDermott is the senior physician executive for Northern Light's CA Dean and Mayo Hospitals. 

"Having the governor here is yet another opportunity for us to share our story about what we're doing with Northern Light Health," McDermott said.

McDermott said the facility, remodeled from an elementary school just a few years ago, is a necessary asset to the people who live there.

"It meets modern standards for space and for equipment. We can bring those services to people, and they don't have to travel. That's particularly important in rural Maine, with gasoline prices as high as they are now. The farther people have to travel, the less likely they are to go to a doctor's office," McDermott said.

This primary care Northern Light facility also contains dental and eyecare centers, which provide easy access to Monson and surrounding communities. McDermott said he hopes this one-stop-shop will encourage more people in that area to seek the services they need.

"So many medical problems get worse when people don't have dental care or dental access. That's really the bedrock on which all other specialty services are provided," McDermott said.

Following a visit to Turning Page Farm in Monson, the governor held a roundtable discussion with the Maine Highlands Working Communities Challenge Team in Dover-Foxcroft to learn about its efforts to strengthen economic development across Piscataquis, Somerset, and Penobscot counties.

In a news release, the governor said, “I congratulate this impressive alliance of community leaders and organizations who are working together to strengthen the region’s economy. There are a lot of great things happening here, and I am optimistic about the future. My administration will continue to do all we can to support the growth of businesses and to ensure that rural Maine is a great place for Maine people to live, work, and raise a family.”

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