In the News
November 13, 2017
'Virtual museum' comes to hospice patient
NEWBURYPORT — Kent Donovan couldn’t travel to the Peabody Essex Museum, so on Friday, part of the museum came to him.
Donovan is in the hospice unit of Country Manor Health Care & Rehab Center at 180 Low St. in Newburyport.
He is a retired professor of history from Kansas State University, and he had told staffers he would like to visit the Peabody Essex.
“My father took me there when I was a kid,” said Donovan, a native of Andover who always kept a home on the North Shore while teaching in Kansas. “I have good memories of that, and I wanted to see some of the things in the museum again.”
Managers at Country Manor felt a trip to the museum would be difficult so they, along with Care Dimensions, arranged for a “virtual tour” of the museum.
On Friday, a docent from the museum brought slides of some of the outstanding features of the Peabody Essex, which dates back to 1799.
Museum docent Roberta Newman showed images of old ships, vintage oil paintings and cultural artifacts for Donovan and others who gathered for the presentation. Donovan told aides he would like others to have the opportunity to join him at the show.
Newman displayed a slide of the bow of a tall ship in port from two centuries ago, and she explained why many ships created carved wood sculptures, sometimes of women, on the prow.
“A lot of young seamen couldn’t read years ago, and often they would drink and party in a foreign port,” Newman said. “If they were drunk when they returned, they would have to recognize their ship in order to board it. Since they did not know letters, they would know their ship from the carving on the bow.”
Kent, whose specialty at Kansas State was British social history, said he enjoyed the presentation.
“I’m having a good time today,” said Donovan, who was in a wheelchair and in jovial spirits. “I like history, and I am very happy the people here and at the museum are showing these slides.”
The program was organized by Care Dimensions, an organization based in Danvers that provides hospice care and other services in more than 90 communities in eastern Massachusetts. Donovan is a Care Dimensions hospice patient. He said he lived in Newburyport for about 20 years before moving to the center six months ago.
“We want our people to live every day to the fullest,” said Deedee Schiano, a social worker for Care Dimensions.
Schiano was working on a life review project with Donovan and learned that he loved museums. She arranged for the museum’s docent to visit with Donovan.
“This type of patient experience underscores our mission — to enrich quality of life for those living with advanced illness,” said Anne Williams, a spokeswoman for Care Dimensions.
Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport. He can be reached at 978-961-3149, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.