$20,000 project at Down East hospital aimed at end-of-life care

Posted March 14, 2012, at 2:06 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — Down East Community Hospital in Machias will soon undertake construction of a new palliative care suite that will provide a more homelike atmosphere for chronically ill patients as they deal with pain and other serious symptoms of disease.

“Palliative care is care that moves along a continuum from curative care to death,” said Julie Hixson, the 25-bed facility’s spokesperson. “In the beginning of a chronic illness, we do everything we can to provide curative treatments. When the chronic illness progresses to a place where fewer and fewer treatments provide any measurable relief of symptoms, we move toward end-of-life care.”

The $20,000 project involves combining two existing hospital rooms and renovating the new, larger area to create a comfortable, homelike suite that provides one room for the patient and another for their family members. Family amenities will include a pull-out couch, a refrigerator and an eating nook. The patient’s living area will be newly furnished and will include a flat-screen TV, Hixson said.

The suite is now being designed, and work is expected to begin within a few weeks, she said.

Of the $20,000 required, all but $4,000 is in hand as a result of community fundraising efforts and donations received as memorials. Hixson said those who would like to contribute to the project can call 255-0244 or mail a check or money order to Down East Community Hospital, 11 Hospital Drive, Machias 04654, with a notation that the funds are for the Palliative Care Suite.

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