MMC Names Burn Unit for Retired Nurse

May 24, 2023

PORTLAND, Maine –  The estate of Thomas “Tommy” Shaw, co-founder of Gorham Sand & Gravel, has given $1 million to support the program for burn and soft tissue services at Maine Medical Center (MMC). The Isla Estabrook Burn Center, which provides comprehensive burn care and scar management, honors the nurse who provided Shaw with exceptional care when he was badly burned in a diesel fuel fire early in his career.

Tommy Shaw’s brother, Danny, said his brother lost part of his ear and had significant burns on his torso and hand when he came to the MMC burn unit after the workplace accident in 1991. Tommy Shaw spent five and a half weeks in the hospital. Danny Shaw said his brother told him that his nurse, Isla Estabrook, combined compassion with a no-nonsense attitude, and that’s what got him through his painful recovery.

“Tommy said that when he could, he’d do something special in tribute to Isla, as he credits her with saving his life 30 years ago,” Danny Shaw said. “That’s the kind of guy he was. Tommy lived up to his promises, worked hard all his life and appreciated those who helped him along the way.”

Estabrook was already a mother of seven children when she became a nurse at age 43. Now retired, she lives in southern Maine with her family, who is honored by this tribute to her.

“She always enjoyed working with her patients,” said Estabrook’s daughter, Lynne Bushway. “She loved being a nurse at Maine Medical Center. She treated everyone equally with dignity, and her goal was to get them up and out of there as quickly as possible so they could return to their daily life.”

The Isla Estabrook Burn Center is dedicated solely to burn care and scar management. The program has approximately 180 inpatients and manages an additional 500 burn outpatients each year. In addition, nearly 700 patients receive follow-up care in MaineHealth adult and pediatric clinics for rehabilitation therapy services, non-operative scar management and comprehensive reconstructive surgery. Funds from this gift are dedicated to advancing the care of serious burns so more Maine people can receive these specialized services close to home.

"We are grateful that Isla could be honored in a way that acknowledges the level of expertise that she provided during her lengthy career, and which we are proud to continue today,” said Joel Botler, MD, MMC Chief Medical Officer. “It’s wonderful to hear about the lifelong impact of MMC’s burn and soft tissue services. Our program has grown over the years, easing patients’ pain and adding psychological resources. The gift from Tommy Shaw’s estate comes at a time of financial challenge for MaineHealth, and will help the Isla Estabrook Burn Center advance the care of serious burns, keeping more Mainers in state for their care.”

Tommy Shaw started Gorham Sand & Gravel with his brother, Jimmy, in the late 1980s. He was a father of four and stepfather to two children, and he cared deeply for his family and his business. He passed away of COVID and pneumonia in January 2022 at the age of 55.

A photo portrait of Isla Estabrook

Isla Estabrook


About Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center (MMC), recognized as a Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News and World Report for 2022-2023, is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in 1868, MMC is the state’s largest medical center, licensed for 700 beds and employing more than 9,600 people. MMC's unique role as both a community hospital and a referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world-class biomedical research center. As a nonprofit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23 percent of all the charity care delivered in Maine. MMC is part of the MaineHealth system, a growing family of health care services in northern New England. For more information, visit