Dempsey Center Launches Virtual Center in Response to COVID Realities


Contact: Wendy Tardif
Executive Director, Dempsey Center
[email protected] 

Impacts of COVID-19 require adaptation to maintain mission, service delivery

PORTLAND & LEWISTON, MAINE (June 29, 2020) – Dempsey Center, a renowned provider of cancer support services in Lewiston and South Portland Maine, has announced the launch of Dempsey Connects, a virtual third center to serve clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dempsey Connects is the cornerstone of a strategic adaptation plan to preserve the strength of the mission and ensure continuity of services in response to the operational and economic impacts of COVID-19.

The adaptation plan acknowledges two realities. First, our services are still necessary, even more so, during the pandemic. The launch of Dempsey Connects ensures our current clients can access services during COVID-19 and will expand services beyond our physical locations into the future, making them available to more people in the rural parts of the state. Second, COVID-19 has resulted in the cancelation of several fundraising events. Consequently, the plan calls for a reduction in vendor relationships, cuts to professional expenses, and the elimination of five positions.

“Like businesses and nonprofits across the state and country, we’ve had to adapt to preserve our mission,” said Dempsey Center Executive Director Wendy Tardif. “We’ve seized opportunities, like building out Dempsey Connects, and made very difficult decisions related to the budget. Through all of the change, our clients remain our top priority and we are confident this plan will ensure that we continue to provide the services they count on.”

Founded in 2008 by Patrick Dempsey, Dempsey Center traditionally offers in-person workshops, counseling, support groups, fitness, massage, acupuncture and additional quality of life care in their Lewiston and South Portland Centers. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Center was serving roughly 1,000 clients and quickly transitioned online through the virtual center.

According to a survey conducted in June, 43 percent of clients used a virtual adult counseling session, 26 percent participated in a virtual fitness program, and nearly 1 in 5 joined a virtual support group. Additionally, 59 percent said that they would prefer a mix of virtual and in-person services going forward. Given Maine’s rural demography and the challenges facing cancer patients, Dempsey Connects is poised to significantly increase the availability and accessibility of services.

“I’ve loved the services at the Dempsey Center and was very grateful when I learned that virtual classes were being made available,” said one client. “I’d love to have them available for the times when weather or problems with my immune system make attending a class difficult or dangerous.”

Dempsey Center leadership initially included the creation of a virtual center in the organization’s recent three-year strategic plan to better serve the needs of all Maine people impacted by cancer; COVID-19 accelerated the project. The Center is expected to begin offering some in-person services this Fall based on CDC guidance, client feedback, and best practices in health care.

“Because we serve a high-risk population, we know we will not be welcoming as many people through our physical doors each day when we reopen,” said Tardif. “We are excited to expand Dempsey Connects so we can serve more people throughout Maine during these challenging times and beyond. To do this, community support through donations, volunteering or participating in the Reimagined Dempsey Challenge is more important than ever.”

For more information on Dempsey Center cancer support services and ways to support the organization, visit:

About Dempsey Center

The Dempsey Center is a leader in Quality of Life care for individuals and families impacted by cancer. Founded in Lewiston, Maine by actor Patrick Dempsey, the Dempsey Center provides a personalized, holistic and integrated approach to cancer supportive care and education. All services are provided at no cost to anyone impacted by cancer regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances or where they receive their medical treatment. For more information visit