LINCOLN, Maine — Except for a touch of arthritis, 85-year-old Jessie Barker is in health so good that she takes pride in not having to go to her doctor’s office. Barker does volunteer work for Meals for Me, Penobscot Valley Hospital and the Knights of Columbus hall, and exercises regularly.
But that was before she toured the new, $5.4 million Health Access Network office at 175 West Broadway on Thursday.
“It’s beautiful, absolutely lovely,” the Lincoln resident said Thursday of the building. “The colors in it are very soothing. Now I can’t wait to go see my doctor on Monday.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, was among the guests of honor who participated in a ribbon cutting and toured the 28,000-square-foot facility, which opened on June 26.
Michaud predicted that the building would improve and draw more professionals to the health care profession in the Lincoln Lakes region.
“Not only is it a good creator of jobs, with the size of its work force having doubled within the last 10 years, but it’s good for the community,” Michaud said after the ribbon cutting.
“One of the issues I hear about over and over again is health care,” he said. “People want good, quality health care and they want access to it readily. This gives them that.”
The building, into which six Lincoln Health Access Network doctors’ and administrative offices were consolidated, will promote the Lincoln Lakes region as a service hub for medical care much the way that the Veterans Administration Outreach Clinic draws more veterans to the region, Michaud said.
When that $450,000 primary care clinic opened at 99 River Road in 2007, it served about 650 veterans. Now it serves more than 1,000, Michaud said.
The new building has 23 exam rooms — 10 more than HAN’s previous offices — for primary care, mental health, podiatry, OB-GYN specialties and administrative services.
When the building’s X-ray equipment and lab testing facilities are completely installed and the building is fully staffed, some patients will get all of their testing done and see referred specialists on the same day, said Dawn Cook, Health Access Network’s chief executive officer.
The new building will help HAN add 12 new jobs, including three primary care doctors and two mental health professionals, to its 100-worker payroll. HAN officials hope the project will spur more additions to the Lincoln Lakes region’s medical community.
HAN’s satellite sites in Enfield, Medway and Millinocket are unchanged.
A federally funded community health center that handles 13,000 patients or 50,000 visits annually, HAN likely will expand its primary care services, plus add some specialty providers, Cook said. The agency hopes to have a grant by September that will allow it to recruit a psychiatrist, which the Lincoln Lakes region lacks.
HAN also is recruiting another female doctor who will handle women’s health and related issues, Cook said. Dr. Sarah Irving, a general practitioner and OB-GYN, is the sole female doctor with the agency. The agency also will begin working with medical schools to host interns and residents.
More than 100 people toured the building Thursday.
“It’s a good place to get lost in,” joked Doris Carney, 82, of Lincoln. “It’s very, very big.”
Originally budgeted at $4.8 million, the building’s construction endured some delays and some alterations. A $905,000 federal grant allowed will officials to add radiology to the building’s design.