The Odd Way Cooper Learned Waterville’s Seton Hospital Is Closed
Earlier this week, I learned a very important lesson – NEVER trust your GPS! Or, at least, always enter a specific address into your GPS (instead of searching for a business).
I had a medical appointment with a doctor at Thayer Hospital. The day before the appointment, the doctor’s receptionist gave me a courtesy call to remind me about the appointment. During the call, she asked me if I knew where his office was. I told her I was not entirely sure, other than the fact that it was in Waterville. She told me it was at Thayer Hospital and started to give me the address. Not wanting to write down (or have to remember) an address, I told her it was not necessary and that I would just do a GPS search for “Thayer Hospital”. Unfortunately, that was a mistake! A BIG mistake!
The morning of my appointment, I left the station (in Augusta) with plenty of time to make it to my appointment in Waterville. Well, it would have been plenty of time if it weren’t for the fact that my GPS lead me astray.
I typed in “Thayer Hospital Waterville” into my phone’s GPS and hit the START button. It took me up the I-95, off at the KMD exit, down KMD, onto 1st Rangeway, and then down some side streets. According to my GPS, my "destination" was a six story tall brick building that did not look like it was in use. The walkways had not been shoveled, there were no lights on, and there was no clear indication of where the main entrance was. I walked around nearly the entire building before I found the main entrance. An entrance that was dark and padlocked. Peaking inside, I could see that the entire building was dark. It really looked like something out of The Walking Dead.
So, where was I?
It turns out, my GPS had taken me to the old Elizabeth Ann Seton Hospital. A facility that has not been in use since 2014.
I think this is how my GPS got confused… According to the KJ, the Elizabeth Ann Seton Hospital merged with Thayer Hospital in 1975. The two hospitals formed the Mid-Maine Medical Center. In the late 1990s, Mid-Maine Health Systems and Kennebec Valley Health System merged, forming MaineGeneral Health. In 2013 and 2014, Thayer Hospital was heavily renovated. Following those renovations, all operations were moved to Thayer and Seton Hospital was closed.
But, since both properties were part of the MaineGeneral system, and there are still some MaineGeneral offices on the Seton campus, my GPS could not distinguish between the two properties. At least, that’s what I think happened.
On the plus side, thanks to a nice worker at the nearby MaineGeneral IOP office, I got directions (well, the specific address for my GPS) to Thayer Hospital. Even though I was a little late, I did make it to my appointment. And, I got a tour of the side streets of Waterville.
So, what’s the deal with the Elizabeth Ann Seton Hospital? According to the National Parks Service, the building, which was built in the mid-1960s, has been on the registry of historic places since 2016. And, a 2018 article in Maine Biz says it is currently being developed into a mix of apartments and office space. I am not entirely sure what the current status of the project is.
So, what was my take-away from this adventure? Never search for businesses in my phone’s GPS. Instead, search for a specific address. And, if you are not entirely sure where a place is, allow A LOT of extra time.