Maine Coast Memorial Hospital is located at 50 Union Street in Ellsworth, Maine
New MCMH Emergency Department on Schedule
ELLSWORTH — Though winter weather conditions affected the construction schedule, officials at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital expect to open a new emergency department on time next year.
“The difficult winter put us about two weeks behind our construction schedule, but we should be able to make it up and open the emergency department very early in 2010,” said Doug Jones, CEO at Maine Coast Memorial.
Construction of a 24,100-square-foot, two-story addition to the hospital campus on Union Street began last October. When completed, the new emergency department will be four times larger than the existing emergency department that opened March 4, 1991. The existing facility covers 2,500 square feet and includes six rooms with eight beds.
The new emergency department will use 10,000 square feet of the addition being built and will have 15 exam rooms, including two trauma rooms. The department also will include family rooms, an X-ray room and special rooms for examining sexual assault victims.
Last year the hospital launched a capital campaign, “When Life’s in the Balance,” to raise $5 million to help fund the project estimated to cost $10 million. The hospital will obtain a state loan to meet the remaining expenses.
The new emergency department is named for the late benefactor F. Eugene Dixon, who bequeathed $1 million for the project.
Jones said the capital campaign is going “very slowly,” but contributions in addition to the bequest from Dixon have totaled about $1.5 million.
“We’re about halfway there,” Jones said. “We hope to have pledges of $5 million by the time the project is completed.”
Jones said the federal economic stimulus package would help the hospital fund the construction project, as the state uses stimulus money to pay down debt owed to Maine hospitals for Medicaid services provided in 2005 and 2006.
“The stimulus money will help us bridge the gap,” Jones said, “and we’re thankful for that. The state is using the money to pay off historic debt to hospitals. It’s really old debt. If we had the money in the first place, we didn’t need to borrow nearly $7 million for this project.”
The second floor of the new building initially will house administrative offices. Eventually, the space will be converted to a new maternity wing. The primary purpose of the project, however, is to replace the emergency department with a larger, more efficient facility.
The existing emergency department was designed to serve some 12,000 patients a year, but about 18,000 patients are coming to the hospital for emergency care each year, Jones said. Benefits of the new emergency department include enhanced patient and family privacy, shorter waits for patients and easier access to advanced technology used in emergency medical situations, among others.
“In spite of the difficult economy, we’re going to make a great contribution to the quality and experience of receiving health care with this new department,” said Jones.