HOULTON, Maine — Elizabeth Dulin, the executive director of the Houlton Regional Health Services Foundation, acknowledged that people in the area are not only in the midst of a recession, but also are being asked to contribute money to a number of local fundraisers.
But since good health is essential to a good life, good health care is a vital need in the community, Dulin said Wednesday afternoon.
That is why she and other foundation members are moving forward this weekend with a major fundraiser that will benefit its nuclear medicine campaign.
The County Open, one of the most lucrative fundraisers for the foundation, will take place this weekend. The 20th annual event consists of a golf tournament, a dinner and raffle, a half marathon and a new addition — a concert Saturday evening featuring the Rock Dox.
In 2006, the foundation started raising money in order to secure $1 million for the nuclear medicine project. During Phase I of the campaign, the foundation raised $302,000 to replace the hospital’s approximately 15-year-old nuclear medicine imaging camera with a new, state-of-the-art model. The camera was dedicated in the fall of 2007.
Since the camera was not all that was needed, the foundation continues to hold events to raise money for the renovation and expansion of the Nuclear Medicine and Radiology Department.
Both Dulin and Alan Abar, a nuclear medicine technologist at the hospital, said Wednesday afternoon that the renovation and expansion will enhance the delivery of services within the department and better meet patient privacy and comfort issues.
The expansion will equip the department with separate rooms for the necessary tests. Construction crews also will renovate and redesign the location and add 705 square feet of space to the unit. The new space will include testing rooms and work space.
“We need that space to allow our patients more comfort and privacy,” said Abar. “Right now, we have the patient, all of the necessary staff members and the equipment in an area that is inadequate.”
Currently, personnel in the department must perform multiple tasks and functions in the camera room, including stress test preparation, stress testing and thyroid uptake. The camera room also provides the only access to the necessary lab and work space. Dulin said that the overlapping use of the space compromises patient privacy, comfort and staff efficiency.
The expansion of the area is part of an ongoing project at the hospital that began in May. Under the plan, the emergency room will be expanded by 710 square feet, and will get a new entrance and a new waiting room. The cardiopulmonary and rehabilitation services also will be relocated and housed in one location within the new addition. The project has an estimated $2.9 million price tag that will be financed by the hospital, its foundation and a bond that will be paid off over 30 years.
The addition will add 7,640 square feet to the hospital.
At this point, the foundation has raised $560,000 for the $1 million nuclear medicine project. The County Open provides an estimated $25,000 for the foundation each year, according to Dulin.
The County Open golf tournament will take place on Saturday and Sunday at golf courses in Houlton and Island Falls. The half marathon will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday in Island Falls.
The dinner and raffle gala will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Millar Civic Center.
The Rock Dox concert was proposed as a way to add more money to the overall total raised by The County Open. The popular musical group will perform at the Millar Civic Center from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The hospital’s foundation raises money that it puts back into the community. The foundation has conducted numerous fundraisers each year to fill its coffers.
The nuclear medicine project will be the latest in a number of initiatives the foundation has undertaken in Houlton and surrounding towns. In addition to the camera, foundation grants have helped pay for a handicapped-accessible van, a defibrillator for a local school and a new pediatric suite at the hospital.
Despite the tough economic situation, Dulin is confident that the generosity of area residents will continue to come through for the foundation.
“Health care is so vital to a community,” she said Wednesday. “Our hospital needs the equipment and the space to provide that. We want to meet this goal.”
For more information on The County Open, log on to www.countyopen.com.