August 17 – 23, 2018 Vol. 20, No. 11

VA Groundbreaking Fulfills Healthcare Vision

Blessing of the Grounds by Jacob George, Chaplain, VA Maine Healthcare System.

by Esther J. Perne

The stories of separation and loneliness can be sad; the solution is happy. Where patients go, families can follow — and stay close to their loved one in a homelike setting, known as Fisher House, that provides free temporary lodging near the hospital.

Recognizing that "a family's love is good medicine," the Fisher House program, founded in 1990, currently provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at 76 major military and VA medical centers around the world and allows them to focus on the healing process.

The most recent VA medical center to receive a Fisher House is Maine (Togus), and the groundbreaking is especially significant. Maine, with its 80,000 soldiers who served in the Civil War, was where the first soldiers home was founded, in 1866, as part of a national network envisioned by President Abraham Lincoln the previous year. Maine continues to deploy and redeploy large percentages population-wise of military men and women to conflicts around the world.

Maine presents major distance and difficulty of travel challenges for these men and women and their families when medical care requires getting to Togus. More than the miles, the disrepair, darkness, monotony, weather considerations, truck traffic, abundance of wildlife on the roads and paucity of food and fuel facilities present a lonely and often dangerous trip, especially for a family who can't afford lodging away from home.

The new 16-suite Fisher House will change all that, providing five star accommodations for families while a loved one is receiving treatment at the VA Maine Healthcare System Togus campus. Fisher House is expected to serve at least 500 families each year. It is a vision of health care fulfilled.

VA and Maine dignitaries break ground with ceremonial shovels.