Miles to Date: 375
May 10, 2015 – Overcast, 55 degrees
If the early bird gets the worm, I have a belly full of ‘em. My alarm went off – too loud – at 4:30 a.m. I was on the Surly in the early dawn, rolling through Waterville to get to MaineGeneral Medical Center for a 7:00 a.m. tour by CEO Chuck Hays. Most of the route was along a ridge road named Middle Street, which gave the gray morning a Zen quality.
The bulk of my career was in healthcare design, and I was fortunate to be involved in three greenfield hospital projects. Completely new hospitals are uncommon, and for an architect to have a hand in three is rare. During my journey I plan to visit them all: MaineGeneral (Augusta, ME, 2013), Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (Lebanon, NH 1991) and Bronson Healthcare (Kalamazoo, MI 1999). Each were state-of-the-art when designed and built, so visiting three facilities spaced about a decade apart should give some sense of how healthcare design has evolved.
Chuck showed me the high points of the completed facility, but what struck me most about his tour was that Chuck greeted every employee we met by name. He spent extra attention describing the staff communication systems and the focus on quality food. When we finished, I rushed back to the cafeteria and devoured two bowls of steel cut oats with fresh fruit and brown sugar. After being up more than three hours and riding over twenty miles, I was hungry.
The ride to Lewiston was uneventful. The weather was nippy, Dense trees in every shade of green stood tight to the road, from golden buds to deep evergreens, but the diffuse light softened their variety.
Lewiston is a former mill town. Although Bates College has a beautiful campus and the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is remarkable downtown is struggling. I met with Muhidin Libah, Executive Director of SBCMALA (Somali Bantu Community of Lewiston, ME) in the two-room suite on an upper floor of a grimy, aging edifice.
It was after three when I rode to a motel in the direction of tomorrow’s ride. This was my first night in a motel, and my first night staying with proprietor Patel! On my last long trip, I discovered that Indian’s rule the locally owned motel world, and many of them are named Patel. At least in Maine, that has not changed. I was too beat to venture out for dinner, but my steel cut oats were still stuck to my belly.