Before it closed its doors several years ago, my family and I had a long tradition of being born at Bath Memorial Hospital. All except my brother, who came into the world at Parkview, which was a small, faith-based hospital in Brunswick (he always had to be different.)

The year was 1976. Although I was barely 2 years old, I remember my father lifting me up to peer through the nursery window at this life-changing new baby.

When Dr. Ron Bettle moved to Brunswick in 1948, he found a growing, progressive town with a U.S. Navy air base, a famous liberal arts college, and 12,000 residents. The only hospital in town, however, was an old three-story wooden house on Union and Center streets. It had no elevator or fire escape, and patients had to be carried up and down stairs on stretchers.

Dr. Bettle did some surgical work at the Bath hospital, but it was 10 miles away and difficult to get to in bad weather. Clearly, Brunswick needed a modern hospital of its own.

According to “Parkview, The Story of a Miracle,” by Ruth Bettle, Dr. Bettle was the medical secretary for the Northern New England Conference of the Seventh-Day Aventists. He tried to interest the group in sponsoring a hospital, but was turned down. So instead, he formed a small group of other Seventh-Day doctors and laymen to start the project.

First they needed a location, and Bettle found a 25-acre lot on upper Maine Street that had a beautiful stream running through it. The owner turned out to be Edward J. Raymond, who was Dr. Bettle’s barber, and one of his patients. There was no money to buy the property, but Bettle organized a group of Adventist businessmen, purchased the lot, and created the mission statement that would serve Parkview for decades:

“To treat the whole man, physical, mental, and spiritual, within a Christian atmosphere.

“To make health education a prominent part of the program, helping people not only to get well but to stay well through a rational plan of living.

“To be a hospital of scientific excellence.”

Raising money from the town would prove difficult. The people of Brunswick knew little of the Adventists or their medical institutions. There were only 47 Adventists in Brunswick and Freeport, and they didn’t even have their own church building. How would they build a half-million dollar hospital? They also faced a possible zoning issue with building a hospital in the Navy base’s flight zone.

The group’s chief fundraiser wanted them to drop the religious affiliation. Worst of all, another group immediately formed to build a competing, nonsectarian hospital (Regional Memorial). Many thought that Brunswick could not support two hospitals. Rumors swirled that the religious leaders of the hospital would not allow patients to smoke, watch TV, eat meat, or eat anything at all.

Despite these challenges, fundraising began in earnest and ground was broken in 1958. Twenty-five more acres were purchased for parking and growth, and Parkview opened its doors in 1959.

The hospital continued to expand over the years, adding an obstetrics wing in 1964, an intensive care unit in 1968, and eventually a two-story addition and a medical building.

Parkview served the Brunswick community for decades, but the financial pressures of running a small, independent hospital became an issue. Competition with Regional Memorial was difficult, especially after the latter hospital merged with Bath Memorial and built the new Mid Coast Hospital east of Cook’s Corner.

Parkview filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and was acquired by Mid Coast. News articles at the time reported that there would be no layoffs, and Parkview staff would become Mid Coast employees. Parkview’s emergency department closed, but other medical procedures are still performed there.

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