St. John Valley

Aroostook House of Comfort honors NMCC nursing students

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Northern Maine Community College nursing students participated in a reception on April 24 at the Aroostook House of Comfort as part of a room dedication in their honor.

The NMCC nursing students have had a special interest in the development of the end-of-life/hospice care facility which was built to accommodate dying patients and their families.  However, the students’ ties to this unique care go back to a very a special instructor whom each of them worked with as part of their coursework studies.

NMCC nursing instructor Janet Durgin, MSN, RN, NE-BC, LSW, has worked with hospice patients since 1983 when she was the clinical director of Visiting Nurses of Aroostook. Since that time, she has also helped students understand the differences of caring for a patient in the final stages of their lives.

When Susan Dugal, RN MSN, NMCC nursing instructor and past SNA advisor, was pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she wanted to explore a greater understanding end-of-life care and connected with Durgin, who also became her mentor at that time.

It was no surprise that when the Student Nurses’ Association first approached Dugal about providing a donation to the Aroostook House of Comfort that she was very supportive. Dugal said the association has probably donated $2,500-$3,000 over the course of several years to this cause.

“We were honored to hear that the medication room at the Aroostook House of Comfort would be dedicated to SNA,” said Dugal. “End-of-life care is the epitome of nursing. It does not require fancy technology or great medical discoveries. It requires the basic attributes and skills of a nurse — the science of caring — touch, compassion, comfort, empathy, and meeting the holistic needs of the patient and family so that those last days of life are lived in comfort and peace.”

At the heart of the Aroostook House of Comfort are Rick and Nancy Duncan. When Rick Duncan’s mother was passing, she had a lot of pain and discomfort. As fate would have it, Durgin was at the hospital during a very challenging day and came to her room. Duncan asked her, “Is there no better way?”

Durgin told Duncan about hospice homes which existed to help patients part with life in a peaceful and loving way, surrounded by family and excellent caregivers.

That conversation nine years ago, began a journey that inspired the Aroostook House of Comfort.

Durgin felt this need was missing from the healthcare spectrum in Aroostook County, and is happy to see the thoughtfulness and dedication put into creating this facility.

“The House will give a place where patients and families can embrace the hospice philosophy and give patients and families the support they need in an environment that is not available anywhere else in the County,” Durgin said.

Submitted by the Development and College Relations Office of Northern Maine Community College.

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