There is currently no free-standing hospice house in Aroostook County and the need for such a facility clearly exists.
Absent any consideration of demographics, the reality is that the resident population of Aroostook County is geographically isolated from any major population center. The northernmost part of the County, the St. John Valley, is approximately 4 hours driving time to Bangor, the nearest large city, while Presque Isle and Houlton are 160 miles and 120 miles distant respectively.
Patients who desire and/or require an alternative to in-home hospice currently have no satisfactory options that will enable them to elect a hospice environment while remaining close to a familiar environment of family, friends, clergy and doctors that they know and who will provide the comfort and support so essential to their comfort in the final days of their lives.
The total population of the County is approximately 73,000, 18% of which are 65 years and older. The percentage of Aroostook County population 65 years and older exceeds that of Maine, (15.1%) and the U.S., (12.8%)1. The proportion of elderly population in Aroostook County is increasing over time. In 1997 the percentage of the County population 65 and older was 13.5%2. The implication of this aging population demographic is a growing demand for hospice services. The demand for hospice will be further impacted by the reality that in many instances the only caregiver available will be the life partner of the patient, who will likely be frail and unable to care for the patient.
1 U.S. Census Bureau State & County Quick Facts (2008 Estimates) – http://guickfacts.census.gov/gfd/states/23/23003.html
2 Aroostook County 1997 Health Status Indicators – Maine Department of Human Services, Bureau of Health, Offices of Health Data and Program Management Page III 15