By Shelley Farrington Lincoln News • February 11, 2021
MILLINOCKET – Many citizens and visitors in the Katahdin region have found themselves needing the services of Millinocket Regional Hospital over the decades and some of those patients have found unique ways to give back.
Kirk Ramsey, former Millinocket resident and co-owner of Bangor Window Shade and Drapery (with business partner Jeff Budge), is one such patient. When given the opportunity to work with MRH Legacy Medical Foundation (LMF) President Michael Crowley in the creation of the hospital’s new oncology center Ramsey jumped at the opportunity.
“This hospital has fixed me up so many times while growing up in Millinocket, this only seemed fair,” Ramsey said with a smile.
He was originally asked to help with window treatments for the center but during his initial visit of the space he was inspired to do more. In addition to providing privacy with the windows, there was a need to provide a privacy barrier of some kind between treatment bays. Seeing an opportunity to give patients that privacy in a way that would be comforting while highlighting the region’s beauty, Ramsey went to work.
He called on his design network that includes Millinocket’s own Ross Knowlton, who is internationally known for his outdoor photography, and his frequent collaborators at DaVinci Signs in Hermon.
“Kirk immediately accepted the challenge with humor and conviction telling me ‘anything to help the patients,’” Crowley said.
Crowley went onto say that Ramsey’s idea of using Knowlton’s nature photos overlaid on the barriers to provide privacy as well as a beauty helps improve the patient experience.
“The talented team at DaVinci Signs brought the project to life; creating two stunning Lexan screens featuring picturesque views of Mt. Katahdin,” Crowley continued. “These colorful, opaque panels enhance patient privacy and bring iconic images into the sterile environment. Kirk took the lead and we now have beautiful work from him, Ross and the good people at DaVinci Signs,” Crowley said.
MRH staff also love the new look.
“We couldn’t have imagined the outcome being this good, great in fact…it is exactly what the space needed,” said Mary Tatro, MRH chief nursing officer, and vice president of patient services.
Ramsay said he comes home to the Katahdin region every chance he gets and his creative eye comes from his mother who inspires his work at both Bangor Window Shade & Drapery and his own business called Ramsey Guitars. He is internationally recognized in the music industry as well, hand crafting guitars through his own Ramsay Guitars often using ancient reclaimed wood and fiber product.
“My mom is an artist and I thought of her, her penchant for capturing the beauty of nature that surrounds the Katahdin region,” he said. “I thought of her while preparing for this installation.”
Crowley said in addition to the Lexan panels, Ramsay outfitted the new cancer treatment space with SheerWeave Roller Shades. The 97 percent opaque shades allow the patients to enjoy a full, unobstructed view of the outside though from the outside looking in, the windows appear dark and provide privacy.
Crowley said in 2019, the MRH began planning for ways to improve cancer resources in the Katahdin region. The result is the MRH Oncology Center which will better serve an aging and increasingly diversified family population of the region. The LMF has been working diligently to provide funding for this project as well as others that benefit MRH and the surrounding communities.
“To have Kirk, his friendships and talents focused on MRH patient care needs is awesome,” said Crowley. “His Bangor based company made a significant gift of shared talent to enhance the MRH Oncology Center space.”
Through his generosity and that of local businesses and community members over $500,000 has been received to help build a new oncology infusion space within the hospital towards a total cost of $625,000 for the oncology center.