SOUTH THOMASTON — The Wessaweskeag Historical Society presents a special program this month that speaks to an important and ongoing piece of the Midcoast history.
This year, RDNA is celebrating 90 years of community nursing in the Rockland area. This milestone represents the enduring commitment of this region, across many generations, to a healthy community for all. The WHS Pot Luck Supper, which begins at 6 p.m., will be followed by this month’s program, which will start at 7 p.m., in the Society’s meeting room just behind the South Thomaston Library at the corner of Rt. 73 and Dublin Road.
The public is invited to join the Society both for the program and for the potluck.
The Midcoast region has had a history of quality and progressive community health care which for decades was led in Rockland by Eliza Steele, RN. Steele was Rockland District Nursing Association’s founding nurse and served as RDNA’s primary nurse from 1929 until her retirement in 1968. She and her staff were familiar figures walking from visit to visit, often being offered rides by passersbys. Throughout the decades and through the upheavals of the Great Depression and World War II, RDNA addressed the emerging health needs of the coastal region.
Steele recruited local physicians and dentists for community wellness, vaccinations, and dental clinics – free of charge - which also included follow-up care. During outbreaks of infectious diseases, the nurses identified and then cared for the ill; all the while monitoring the progress of the disease. For generations, Steele was the only nurse in the local schools, regularly screening students and maintaining student health records well before such records were mandated.
The oral history that will be presented for the audience shares memories of Steele from the perspective of her colleagues.
One of only three remaining district nursing agencies in the state of Maine, RDNA nurses today regularly visit close to 200 predominantly elderly residents living independently in South Thomaston, Owls Head, Cushing, St. George, Warren, Union, Thomaston and Rockland.
The Wessaweskeag Historical Society was founded three decades ago and is a nonprofit, charitable organization anchored in South Thomaston. It maintains an archives and museum contiguous to the town’s public library, hosts monthly potluck suppers and heritage programming available to the public.
The Society also hosts the annual Heritage Day, sponsors local historic preservation and cooperates the kindred community organizations.
Higher education for local youth is supported through the Society’s scholarship program.