Presque Isle hospital turns to agriculture to raise money, awareness of facility

Posted Nov. 06, 2012, at 12:15 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Looking to celebrate its heritage and raise money for needed medical equipment, a Presque Isle hospital successfully turned to Aroostook County agriculture for help reaching its goal.

The Aroostook Medical Center this past summer launched two separate campaigns to celebrate its 100th birthday and to raise money toward the purchase of a Giraffe Warmer that will be used for premature babies at the hospital.

The vision for what now is TAMC came from Frank White, an attorney, in 1908, according to hospital officials. During that time, White had made frequent trips to outlying farms and neighboring smaller communities by horse and wagon, soliciting donations.

Through the efforts of White and other community leaders, Presque Isle General Hospital was incorporated on April 8, 1912.

In June, the hospital unveiled the TAMC Centennial Potato Plot, a two-acre section of a field on U.S. Route 1 between Presque Isle and Caribou. Cavendish Produce donated the two acres of russet potatoes that were planted. The field was envisioned as a way to celebrate the hospital’s 100th birthday and its ties to agriculture.

Hospital employees and their family members harvested the field by hand in early October.

Aroostook County candidates running for the Maine State Legislature each were presented with a commemorative five-pound bag filled with russet potatoes.

Officials with TAMC and project partners Cavendish Produce and Northeast Packaging Company also gave two commemorative bags of potatoes to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins — one for her to enjoy, the other for her to deliver to the White House. U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud also received a bag for himself and another to present to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

In late July, the hospital announced a plan to raise money for the Giraffe Warmer with some help from Houlton Farms Dairy.

Houlton Farms Dairy has dairy bars in Presque Isle, Caribou and Houlton. In August, each facility offered ice cream lovers a dish called TAMiC — Truly Aroostook Made ice Cream — as a limited-time offering. The dish featured one scoop each of Houlton Farms Dairy’s signature vanilla, strawberry and blueberry ice creams served in either a waffle cone or dish, depending on what the customer wanted.

The treat was garnished with equally patriotic red, white and blue sprinkles and strawberry sauce.

An order cost $4 with $1 from each sale going toward the purchase of a Giraffe Warmer. The warmers provide uninterrupted thermal support for premature babies while at the same time giving a caregiver or a team of caregivers access and visibility to the newborn, making it much easier to perform procedures such as X-rays and surgery.

Hospital officials said that late last month, officials with Houlton Farms Dairy presented them with a check for just over $1,000 for the proceeds from the sale of the ice cream.

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