Jefferson B. Cary was a general practitioner in Caribou for many years. Regarded as an excellent physician and outstanding citizen, Dr. Cary was wholly dedicated to meeting the healthcare needs of residents in the Caribou area. In fact, he was so committed to this mission that he left a portion of his estate to the City of Caribou to build a community hospital. On September 5, 1924, Cary Memorial Hospital opened its doors.
By the mid-1970s, however, the community’s needs for medical services outgrew Cary Memorial Hospital and there was no room to expand because residential dwellings surrounded the facility. Using the same desired and important concerns of Dr. Cary as a guidepost, a new hospital was built on a larger plot of land on the outskirts of the city of Caribou. The new hospital, which was renamed Cary Medical Center, opened in July 1978 with several unique features not found in many hospitals at the time. All patient rooms were private, the ancillary areas were designed to allow room for substantial growth of the services, and bright colors were used throughout the hospital to give it a less clinical look. Despite the expansion and changes, however, the staff made certain that the patient-centered care and family-like culture established at the original hospital remained intact.
Today, the Jefferson Cary Estate lives on, providing support for Cary Medical Center. The foundation is managed by three individuals who are publicly elected. The hospital is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors, appointed by the Caribou City Council. The Caribou City Manager and the Chairman of the Jefferson Cary Estate are permanent members of the hospital Board.
In its 90-plus year history, Cary Medical Center has been a leading organization in healthcare thanks to the vision and dedication of thousands of people who have been part of the Cary family. Their efforts, combined with the support of our patients and community, have resulted in milestones including the opening of the nation’s first Veteran’s Administration outpatient clinic in a private community hospital (1987), the establishment of the St. John Valley Health Center in Van Buren (1989), a 40-bed long term nursing and skilled care facility for veterans (1989), a 30-bed residential facility for veterans (2000), northern Maine’s first fixed base MRI (2001), and numerous specialty services typically only available at large, urban hospitals.
We are proud to continue the legacy of Dr. Jefferson Cary in serving our community and meeting the healthcare needs of area residents. It is our mission to build upon this tradition and to continue striving for excellence in healthcare.