Karma and a nurse named Shelby….

In 2010, when I was the CEO of Axiom, the company was awarded a Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grant from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. The grant was a “Sustainable Broadband Adoption” project, and gave us the wonderful opportunity of working with Washington County’s farming and fishing communities. We were honored to work closely with these natural resource-based, hard-working farmers and fishermen that contribute so much to our local economy.

The program also partnered with Central Maine Medical Center’s College of Nursing and Healthcare Professions, located in Lewiston, about 200 miles away.

The program connected the nursing school to our local hospital, Downeast Community Hospital, and offered a nursing program to area residents. The nursing students were mostly non-traditional students, older students, that would not have been able to pursue a career change because the closest nursing school was located up to 2 to 3 hours away. Travel was a barrier to pursuing educational attainment.

The nursing students connected to instructors at the Lewiston location via video conference technology, made possible because of a fiber-optic broadband connection at the Axiom office and the hospital location. The fiber-optic connection was built by Maine Fiber Company, another BTOP awardee in Maine, with the mission of building Maine’s Three Ring Binder, a 1,300-mile fiber-optic network.

One fun aspect of the nursing program was the acquisition of “SimMan”, a wireless human patient simulator the size of an average-size adult that can teach core skills in airway, breathing, cardiac and circulation. The mannequin could be remotely controlled by staff in Lewiston for the students in Machias. Two cohorts of students participated, 16 individuals pursuing their education.

When the BTOP program came to a close, and the newly pinned RN’s found jobs locally, there was that moment that we all paused and smiled that this was a job well done. We had accomplished our goal by providing a program that would provide long-term benefits for our community.

Robust broadband connectivity, innovative thinking, and a group of students intent on pursuing their dreams was a winning combination.

Karma. Karma is a word meaning the result of a person’s actions as well as the actions themselves. It is a term about the cycle of cause and effect. According to the theory of Karma, what happens to a person, happens because they caused it with their actions.

Why is Karma important in relation to this blog? Fast forward to May 2020. My brother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the aggressive type. My happy-go-lucky, healthy little brother was suddenly fighting for his life. Just like that. One day, riding his bicycle 25 miles a day, and in what seemed like a minute, he was having chemotherapy.

When you love someone, and when that person doesn’t have the energy to take care of themselves, you fight, and you fight hard. You fight when they just can’t fight for themselves. You find every resource you can, put one foot in front of the other and you don’t give up, and you don’t let the person that you love give up. Ever. Ever. Ever. And eventually, you see that shining light called hope.

One of the resources, our shining light, was our visiting nurse. Shelby arrived at just the right time, when all energy was expended, and all you feel is overwhelmed.

I know you, she said. I am a nurse because of you. And I am here to take care of your brother.

Broadband. Education. Hope.