LEWISTON — There are many ways a friendly 95-year-old can help out around a hospital — answering phones, staffing the front desk or minding the cash register at the gift shop.

But Anita Turgeon would rather walk.

“You have to like what you are doing, and I love this,” Turgeon said. “I love to be with the people and I love to be helping the hospital. And it’s helping me. It’s therapy to be here.”

Turgeon is one of the 200 “seasoned” volunteers at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, according to Volunteer Coordinator Jenny Cowie.

The volunteer program is important to the hospital, Cowie said.

“It lets us keep our paid staff on the floors, caring for the patients,” she said. “The volunteers can then transport patients where they need to go. For example, they can take someone from our joint center to the imaging department. Or they can do other errands and different tasks.”

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Turgeon’s particular job, one she’s kept for 17 years, is patient transport. It keeps her moving from one end of the hospital to another — up and down floors and back and forth along the corridors.

“There are not many places here I don’t know,” she said.

A lifelong Lewiston resident, she worked at the Pepperell Mill until it closed.

“And then, when it shut down, I didn’t do much of anything,” she said. “I needed to do something — so I came here, not knowing what to expect. But I love people and I get to see a lot of really nice people.”

They include nurses and doctors, patients and other volunteers. Some are new friends; some are faces she’s known for a while.

It’s been a good, steady pace for the past 17 years. She’s just passed 17,000 volunteer hours and will get a new pin at the hospital’s volunteer luncheon in April.

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Turgeon is important — not just for her willingness to work, but for her attitude, Cowie said.

“She just had her 95th birthday, and she’s still doing patient transport,” Cowie said. “She’ll push patients in wheelchairs; she assists with the stretchers; she’ll go on lab runs. She’ll do whatever is asked. Plus, she’s so full of life.”

Her cheeriness makes her welcome all over the hospital.

“Everyone knows Anita and she’ll stop and talk to all of them,” Cowie said. “There are times we’ll say, ‘Where’s Anita? She should be back by now.’ And we’ll find her in the hallway, chatting with someone — even the patients. So her time out on the runs is sometimes extended because she’s socializing — which is perfect. It’s what we want.”

Cowie said the hospital usually has a team of four seasoned patient transport volunteers working each day. One acts as a dispatcher, sending the other three where they need to go. They usually trade off, but Turgeon said she prefers to skip phone duty.

“I don’t care for it,” she said. “If you don’t care for something, don’t do it.”


Know someone with a deep well of unlimited public spirit? Someone who gives of their time to make their community a better place? Then nominate them for Kudos. Send their name and the place where they do their good deeds to  [email protected] and we’ll do the rest.


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