Press Release

AHA Award of Honor to be Presented to Cary Medical Center

The American Hospital Association (AHA) will present its Award of Honor to Cary Medical Center in Caribou, Maine, for its service to America's veterans.  The award, presented at the AHA's Annual Membership Meeting on April 11, is given to organizations and individuals in recognition of exemplary contributions to the health and well-being of people through leadership on major health policies or social initiatives.

Cary Medical Center (CMC) established the nation's first rural veterans' community-based outpatient clinic, pioneering a health care delivery model that has set the standard for similar clinics throughout the country.  When CMC proposed the clinic in the late 1970s, it sparked national discussions within the Veterans Administration (VA) about health care needs for rural veterans.  CMC worked with the local veterans' leadership group, Aroostook County Veterans, for more than a decade to secure approval from the VA to establish the clinic, which began with limited follow up care and in 1987 the formal opening of the outpatient clinic. 

"Cary Medical Center's work with the VA to establish the outpatient clinic transformed health care for veterans in Maine and across the country," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock.  "By bringing health care to veterans in rural areas where they live, Cary Medical Center filled a significant gap in their health needs and provided a model for other VA clinics.  The AHA is proud to celebrate Cary Medical Center's achievements in helping veterans by presenting it with the Award of Honor."

Today, the clinic serves up to 120 veterans per day, with more than 9,000 care visits annually, and provides primary care, mental health services, home-based care, tele-health, lab services, and health and wellness programs.  The clinic helps veterans avoid a 10-hour round trip to the nearest VA hospital and addresses the special health care needs of rural veterans who may not have received care if the clinic did not exist.  CMC worked closely with Maine Veterans' Homes to establish a 40-bed long term care facility and a 30-bed residential care facility on the CMC campus.  The Maine Veterans' Home provides skilled nursing, rehabilitation and long-term care with the goal of returning patients to their home and community, as well as a Maine Veterans' Residential Care facility which provides care to patients with early dementia.   As further expansion of veterans' care is being considered, CMC continues to work with local veterans, the VA and Maine's congressional delegation.

Previous Award of Honor winners include organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, The Institute for Safe Medication Practices and Habitat for Humanity.  Individuals such as Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., former president and CEO of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Donald M. Berwick, M.D., Administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and former president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement have also been honored.

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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