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Mount Desert Island Hospital History


1897 – On September 3rd 1897, during a meeting at the Marlborough Hotel in Bar Harbor, members of the Village Improvement Society conclude, “some form of hospital is both expedient and even now necessary.”  A committee composed of local citizens and summer residents undertakes to raise $10,000 for construction of a “Bar Harbor Medical and Surgical Hospital.” Thus begins more than a century of convenient access to quality care for community members and visitors in the MDI region.

1898 – The Bar Harbor Record reports completion of the 46-by-84-foot Colonial-style Hospital.  Capacity is limited to 10 beds, five in private rooms:  “All that is possible has been done to make the building clean, comfortable, cheerful and convenient.”

1906 – Hospital admits its first maternity patient.  Space constraints limit inpatient maternity care to summer residents in the warm season; local women, assisted by a doctor and nurse, deliver at home.

1931 – Trustees rename the Hospital “The Mount Desert Island Hospital”, recognizing island-wide support for the institution.

1937 – A new wing provides additional acute care rooms, an obstetrical area, and a Radiology Department.

1947 – In October of the driest year on record, small fires mushroom into a devastating blaze.  Between October 17 and November 14, flames devour 17,188 acres and 237 homes.  Yet within Hospital walls, calm prevails.  Volunteer fire crews stand guard as patients are moved from the main wooden structure to the brick wing; the following day, bed patients transfer to Eastern Maine General Hospital, Bangor.

1962 – A new fire-resistant brick structure gives the Hospital its first real emergency room, its first pharmacy headed by a registered pharmacist, a new surgical suite with recovery room, and 57 new patient beds

1968 – The new Medical Arts Building, now known as Cooper-Gilmore Health Center offers doctors office space close to the Hospital.

1969 – Completion of the Extended Care Wing makes MDI Hospital one of the best-equipped hospitals in New England.

1972 – The Intensive and Coronary Care Unit opens, mid-July.

1984 – A trend toward family-centered childbirth leads to the opening of two specially equipped birthing rooms. The Hospital also purchases its own mammography machine for the early detection of breast cancer.

1985 – The Ambulatory Surgery Unit opens, reflecting a shift toward shorter hospital stays.

1992 – Dedication of Dr. Llewellyn W. Cooper Surgical Suite

1997 – The Hospital acquires a Spiral CT Scanner, which cuts exam times in half and provides more detailed information.

2000 – MDI Hospital receives Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation. The designation recognizes the unique role played by small, rural hospitals in their communities and provides a higher rate of reimbursement for care of Medicare patients.

2001– MDI Hospital breaks ground on Birch Bay Village Retirement Community.

2002 – The Hospital holds grand opening celebration for the Trenton Health Center.

2003 – The MDI Hospital Breast Center and Orthopedics clinic open.

2005 – MDI Hospital’s new Obstetrics Department and Cadillac Mountain Medical Building open.

2007 – The Hospital cuts the ribbon on the new Colket Inpatient Care Center, which provides spacious, modern facilities for patients and visitors.

2008 – The new Community Health Center in Southwest Harbor opens, offering primary care, behavioral health, physical and occupational therapy, care management, alternative medicine, and an adult day facility for people with memory loss

2009 – The Don and Beth Straus Center opens next to the new Community Health Center, providing a day program for seniors with memory loss to enjoy a safe, active, therapeutic environment.

2010 – The Hospital’s new Oncology and Hematology Department opens in the space previously occupied by Administration and Care Management. The second floor facility offers nearly 1000 square feet of additional space, ensuring more privacy and comfort for patients.

2011 – An innovative collaboration between Mount Desert Island Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania brings cutting edge practices and procedures to the emergency room here. For several weeks each summer physicians and nurses from Penn Medicine work alongside their MDI Hospital counterparts in the Emergency Department to share best practices and conduct training on the latest techniques while learning what it takes to practice emergency medicine at a small rural hospital. The multi-year interdisciplinary collaboration also brings leading experts to MDI Hospital for continuing medical education on the latest from academic research.

2011 – Mount Desert Island Hospital creates the nation’s first-ever Experienced Certified Nursing Assistant program. This certification program, accredited by Eastern Maine Community College, offers formal education to 12 CNAs from six area hospitals to enable them to offer a greater level of care for their patients.

2012 – Mount Desert Island Hospital’s mission of providing critical access to quality care was recognized nationally and regionally by five industry, business and insurance organizations including the Leapfrog Group, the National Rural Health Association, Avatar International, and HarvardPilgrim.

2013 – The Women’s Health Center celebrates its 20th anniversary and kicks off construction of the new Lisa Stewart Women’s Health Center on Main Street in Bar Harbor. The new facility will offer greater access, convenience and privacy for the center’s growing practice that serves women of all ages from throughout the greater MDI area.

2013 – Mount Desert Island Hospital joins with Tufts University School of Medicine to become the only hospital in Hancock County to participate in the Maine Track Program, designed to bring top medical students back to Maine to practice medicine.

2014 – The new Lisa Stewart Women’s Health Center opens its doors, offering the community a new home for women’s health. The new center was made possible by an outpouring of community and donor support.

2014 – The new Community Dental Center opens its doors, becoming the first non-profit dental center on Mount Desert Island.

2015 – Mount Desert Island Hospital is rated five-stars by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the top ranking available, obtained by only 251 hospitals nationally.