PARIS — World War II Army veteran Frank Flanders spends his days and nights in the care and comfort of the Maine Veterans’ Home, which celebrated 20 years of operation Wednesday with some pomp and circumstance.

“It couldn’t be any better; they give me good care,” the 94-year-old former Norway resident said at the ceremony.

Flanders came to the High Street facility two years ago, a year after his wife, Florence, did. Maine’s Veterans’ Homes offer care for Maine veterans and their spouses and support to families. Perhaps more than that, however, they provide a sense of community for residents.

“You’ve got your friends here with you,” Flanders said. “They’ve all done the same thing I did — and that means quite a lot.”

In 1995, after two years of construction, the South Paris facility opened and admitted its first resident July 26. Since then, Administrator Joel Dutton said, the Veterans’ Home has cared for more than 2,000 veterans, spouses and Gold Star parents.

“Twenty years, what does that mean?” asked Kelley Kash, CEO of Maine Veterans’ Homes. “So, we have literally taken care of hundreds, if not thousands, of veterans and families over that period. That represents over 600,000 resident days of care delivered here. Nearly 2 million meals served, or over 10 million medications administered. Those are pretty baffling numbers, when you think about it. But the most important number is ‘one.’ And that’s each and every resident we care for in South Paris. . . . Nobody in the nation has the kind of resident and family satisfaction results that we see here.”

Advertisement

In 20 years, Dutton said, the care facility has earned a number of awards and recognitions, including being listed as a Five-Star Facility by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and earning the Silver Quality Award by the American Health Care Association and the Leadership Award from the American College of Health Care Administrators. Locally, for the past five years, Healthy Oxford Hills has awarded the facility the Gold Work Healthy Award for its efforts to ensure a safe work environment for staff.

Several speakers talked about the past 20 years and how the Maine Veterans’ Home came to be. U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who was present when the facility opened, joined the ceremony by recorded video. His regional representative attended on his behalf.

Several times, Dutton applauded staff and volunteers for their dedication and commitment to providing exceptional care, including three employees who have been there from the beginning.

Volunteer Joan Hebert was also present for her 7,000th hour of volunteer work. Hebert said she began volunteering in 1995, one month after the facility opened. Her husband was a resident there until his death eight years ago, and after he passed, she decided to continue her volunteer work.

“It fills your heart to do that,” she said. “I love it here.”

There are bright things in store for Maine Veterans’ Home, according to Dutton. The home has received funding for a state-of-the-art dining room. Dutton said they hope to begin construction next spring.

“This new dining room will bring a more personalized dining experience to our residents on our C-unit in a dining room that will be lighter, roomier and more comfortable than the current dining room,” he said.

Refreshments were served at the celebration with the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School string quartet providing Christmas music.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.