PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The sagging economy has not slowed The Aroostook Medical Center from expanding its efforts to offer fast, affordable health care.
The Presque Isle hospital earlier this year began construction on North Street Healthcare, the new family health care center and medical mall. It expects the facility will open in June.
Hospital officials outlined their plan for the North Street site last year after they worked with an engineering and architectural firm to assess TAMC’s ability to meet the needs of the community.
Hospital officials said planners found a growing need for TAMC to provide outpatient services. The hospital’s board then approved a plan to open the outpatient services center in the North Street Plaza in Presque Isle. The facility is in the building formerly occupied by Smythe’s IGA Plus.
“We are actually predicting that we will be able to open our doors and take our first patient in June,” Glenda Dwyer, TAMC’s vice president of physician practice services, said Wednesday. “The building is 50,000 square feet, and we already have renovated 25,000 square feet of it.”
Officials said benefits of the new outpatient services center will include simplified scheduling, more convenient parking and the availability of walk-in care during evening and weekend hours.
The hospital’s patient billing department, County Dialysis Center, and County Physical Therapy occupy the plaza and will remain in their current spaces. Pat’s Pizza, a longtime tenant at North Street, also will remain.
The hospital’s Presque Isle-based family practice and pediatrics services will be consolidated on North Street in the part of the building that formerly housed Smythe’s IGA Plus.
Dwyer noted that one of the major goals of the new center is to establish a place for people to go who need medical treatment for ailments that have not risen to the seriousness of requiring a visit to the emergency room.
“The walk-in clinic is going to be ideal for people who need treatment for something soon, but it may be hard for them to get into their primary care physician as quickly to seek treatment for it,” she said, adding that minor illnesses such as sinusitis and urinary tract infections are two such illnesses that could be treated at the walk-in clinic.
Dave Peterson, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the sluggish economy forced TAMC to re-evaluate some planned projects, but he said the North Street project remained a priority.
“Times are tight right now for most individuals and businesses, and health care is no different,” he said. “We have had to postpone other projects, but it’s essential that we move forward with North Street. We need to be prepared to meet the needs of the community now and make sure we will be able to do so in the future, and this project will help us make sure that the right care is available in Aroostook County when it is needed.”
Once the new site is completed, approximately 60 employees who already work for the hospital will transition to North Street.