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Northern Maine Medical Center bids retiring trustee a fond farewell

FORT KENT, Maine — Longtime Northern Maine Medical Center trustee Ronald Daigle has retired from the board after serving more than 30 years.

Daigle first joined Northern Maine Medical Center’s Board of Trustees in 1983, 31 years after the hospital opened its doors as People’s Benevolent Hospital and the year that the Madawaska Outpatient Center was established. He was initially approached by Harry Etscovitz, Dick Morin and Don Waddell to consider the board appointment.

Daigle said, “I accepted the role because based on the hospital’s charter, I felt that I could be of service in ensuring quality care for residents and the opportunity to fulfill the mission of the hospital.”  

During the more than 30 years on the board, he served as secretary, treasurer, vice president and four-time president.

At the time of his appointment, the board numbered 27 members and the medical staff all ran private practices. He recalled having a high level of involvement in restructuring and reducing the size of the board as well as adding medical staff representation to the membership.

Daigle said, “It was frightening to some of us at first but we all agreed it was best for the hospital.”  

Now, as he retires, the board numbers 12 members and the medical staff are all hospital employed.

Daigle devoted a lifetime of volunteer service and leadership which has spanned over more than 30 years. Whether working to recruit and retain providers to rural Maine, carrying out the mission of the hospital to ensure quality care or dealing with the challenging financial matters of healthcare, he served the people of the St. John Valley with a strong commitment to high quality and transparency.

When he reflected back on the work of the board, he said, “The most challenging times in my memory were those when the hospital was experiencing serious financial crisis because we knew the only option was to make sure the doors stayed open.”

During that time, he said both the administration and the board were committed to transparency and worked very closely together, along with other partners, substantially changing the direction of the hospital to ensure success for the patients it served.

Peter Sirois, NMMC president and CEO, said, “In my 30 years with Northern Maine Medical Center, Ron Daigle truly stands out for the critical role he played in the long-term success and viability of the organization. Throughout his tenure, he demonstrated and demanded immense devotion and compassion to make certain a quality hospital would always be available for the patients of the St. John Valley.

“Trustees like Ron Daigle are why Northern Maine Medical Center is one of America’s Top 20 Rural Hospitals in the country today,” Sirois said.

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