Fort Fairfield  -  The committee working on a series of projects designed to celebrate the history of healthcare in Fort Fairfield is developing plans for a healing garden on the footprint where two sections of the former Community General Hospital once stood.  In addition, the group of area residents and TAMC officials is planning for a permanent exhibit of photographs and artifacts that depict the history of healthcare in the community and hopes to establish a community garden behind the existing Fort Fairfield Health Center.

TAMC

Betty Kent-Conant and Fort Fairfield native Rayle Reed Ainsworth lead the Community General Hospital Legacy Project Committee, which is a joint work group of the Fort Fairfield Quality of Place Council and TAMC Fort Fairfield Area Community Health Advisory Committee.  The team has met since September 2014 to plan for what will occupy the space where the 1950 and 1971 sections of Community General Hospital were taken down this fall and to pay tribute to the legacy of the facility and its staff, volunteers, donors, and patients through the years.

“It isn’t often that opportunities like this come along - when a community is asked to share its information, artifacts and talents to honor its own citizens and evidence the work they have done,” said Rayle Reed Ainsworth.  “We need the help of community members and others who have a connection to healthcare in Fort Fairfield to help make this an incredible community project.”

The work of the CGH Legacy Project Committee is set to honor those affiliated with the former Fort Fairfield Community General Hospital, in part, by offering a museum space for artifacts, pictures and stories.  The exhibit will be permanently displayed at the present-day TAMC Health Center on High Street in Fort Fairfield.  Several items saved over the years by the Fort Fairfield Frontier Heritage Historical Society, which could not be displayed due to space constraints, will be part of the exhibit – but more, including photographs and stories, are needed.

“It is our hope that people involved with the Fort Fairfield Community Hospital over the years will search their photo albums, artifacts, and/or will recall some of the amazing stories that went on in healthcare over the years.  We will gladly scan and return photos while people wait, as well as accept stories shared about people who worked there, were healed there, or remember incidences affiliated with FFCGH,” said Betty Kent-Conant, who began her own nursing career at the Fort Fairfield hospital.  “Items of interest will be gladly accepted, either on loan or permanently.  We hope to accumulate pictures and artifacts, which our community will find interesting, including those from the hospital that pre-dated CGH that was owned and operated by Dr. Herrick Kimball.”

In addition to the museum, the CGH Legacy Project Committee is inviting area residents to get involved in planning the outside property around TAMC’s Fort Fairfield Health Center.  Work is ongoing to plan the landscape design for the entire site, and to look to the future of healthcare in Fort Fairfield.

“Our ideas include plans for a memorial garden /healing garden, which would allow for memorial trees and benches,” said Rayle Reed Ainsworth.  “We are also considering establishing a community garden, which could be used by citizens to individually plant a small plot to be used for vegetables, herbs, and/or flowers.”

If there is interest in the community, the vision of the group is that citizens could acquire individual plots (10’ x 10’) for the season, with the understanding that it would be theirs to maintain and harvest. Community gardens have become popular in southern Maine.

“Community gardens are a wonderful way to spend time out of doors, get exercise, learn the joy of growing and eating your own produce, or in sharing that produce.  More often than not, friendships develop as well,” added Rayle Reed Ainsworth. “By having this garden centrally located, we envision folks coming to the gardens from many parts of town.  Tools and a common storage would be provided, as well as water, perimeter fencing and usable soil.  We hope to start small and to grow in our community garden, as people learn the benefits and joy.”

In addition to Rayle Reed Ainsworth and Betty Kent-Conant, the core group comprising the CGH Legacy Project committee includes community members Sarah Ulman, Scott Craig and Donna Currie.  They are joined by TAMC team members Jim McKenney, Jason Parent and Craig Cormier.

The committee is looking to add to their group interested community members who might want to assist with one or more of the projects – museum, healing/memorial garden or community garden.  Individuals are encouraged to connect with any of the members or contact TAMC Fort Fairfield Health Center Manager Kerry Spooner at 207-768-4750 or kspooner@emhs.org to share their name and contact information.

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