MOUNT DESERT — The Mount Desert Nursing Association celebrated a recently completed renovation with the public last week, but cosmetic improvements aren’t the only big changes the facility has seen.
During an open house on Thursday, Sept. 1, local residents walked into an MDNA building that was nearly unrecognizable. New hardwood flooring, wall repair and painting along with all new furnishing revamped an office that had gone untouched since construction 50 years ago.
MDNA Executive Director Amy McVety said the in-home health care agency had been in disrepair for a while but because of its nonprofit status there weren’t sufficient funds to fix the cracked walls, windowsills and drab interior.
That was until a generous board member donated approximately $25,000 for the project.
“We just went soup to nuts trying to give everything a bit of a fresh look,” said McVety, “not just for people coming in, but also for the team and staff to have a more cheerful place.”
Kassi Berry started her first week as patient care coordinator in March when the renovation had just begun. She watched as hardwood replaced the stained carpet on the first floor and the white cracked walls in the office, hallway and living room turned to warm shades of yellow and calming blues.
Once the main construction finished in May with the installation of light fixtures and switch plates, new furniture and decor, including a conference table and chairs, office desks and houseplants, completed the makeover. Visitors can now enjoy a reception room furnished with new area rugs, desk and floor lamps, and two blue recliners.
Berry said not only is her new office “absolutely gorgeous,” but it is also a calming space that allows her to be more productive.
Having a conducive work environment is a much-needed boost for all employees, especially since the volume of patients served by MDNA has grown by 400 percent in the last five years.
Patient intake rapidly increased when the agency expanded its clientele from the town of Mount Desert to all of Mount Desert Island in August of 2017.
The agency serves about 220 patients annually. This year alone, staff have already helped 182 patients and have made 1,832 separate visits.
MDNA also started accepting insurance, including Medicare and Maine Care, in June of 2017.
Because of this growth and additional insurance reimbursement, the nursing association has added two administrative positions in the last year and can now boast a full administration staff for the first time since its formation.
“I think that our growth is just based on people understanding better who we are and what we offer,” McVety said.
There are currently six clinicians on board. McVety said MDNA is looking to hire home health aides, a nurse PRN and an occupational therapist PRN to complete the team.
History of MDNA
Thursday’s open house coincided with MDNA’s 73rd birthday. The health care organization has a long history of serving MDI residents.
The seeds for MDNA were planted when Mount Desert residents brought an American Red Cross chapter to town over a century ago. These chapters began cropping up across the country to provide nursing services and training programs for in-home care.
In 1931, the house, which still sits at 12 Summit Road in Northeast Harbor, was built. With the chapter came a “town nurse” until 1948, when the organization changed its mission to natural disaster responses and CPR and lifeguard instruction.
Community members once again banded together to establish a new chapter of their own – the Mount Desert Public Health Nursing Association. The Red Cross donated the local chapter’s land and building to the cause and the association officially opened its doors Sept. 1, 1948.
MDPHN provided the same services as the Red Cross, namely in-home care and school health exams, while giving root to a permanent community fixture the area still benefits from today.
The MDPHN has since evolved into the Mount Desert Nursing Association but continues to provide nursing care to both year-round and summer residents of the town of Mount Desert and beyond.
Many of the association’s founding goals and principles are still embedded in the practices of MDNA, like providing care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, but there have been steady improvements year over year.
MDNA’s services include skilled nursing visits, physical and occupational therapy visits and home health aid. Other community outreach services include blood pressure and flu shot clinics and in-home COVID-19 booster shots in collaboration with Carroll Drug Store.
Island residents can also reserve equipment in the facilities “Medical Equipment Loan Closet” free of charge, which includes power lift chairs, beds, wheelchairs, and walkers and other durable medical equipment.
McVety said patients may be able to enjoy music therapy in the near future if the licensing works out.
“[MDNA] is just an integral part of the community,” said board member Judy Benson.
For more information, visit www.mountdesertnursing.org or call (207) 276-5184.