Penquis chosen to operate EAAA assisted living sites

Posted Sept. 11, 2009, at 8:18 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:13 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Penquis Community Action Program Inc., or Penquis, has been selected to provide affordable assisted living services beginning Oct. 1 to 90 residents formerly cared for by the Eastern Area Agency on Aging. They are housed at Freeses in Bangor, Merry Gardens in Camden and Stearns in Millinocket.

Eastern Area Agency on Aging announced that it no longer could manage the units, according to a story carried by the Bangor Daily News on Aug. 20.

That story reported that a state rule change for MaineCare reimbursement, which went into effect July 1, had crippled the agency’s ability to provide services without hemorrhaging money, its director, Noelle Merrill, explained at the time.

“There is no other way to scale back without putting people’s lives in jeopardy,” Merrill said. “We’re good at being economical. We’re a nonprofit, so we’re happy to break even or even take a small loss.”

Recently, she said, the agency has been taking a big loss and has set a tentative date of Sept. 30 for departure as service provider.

Under the new arrangement residents will continue to pay rent directly to the property owner, Realty Resources, based in Rockport. Under the terms of the $1.4 million annual contract with the Department of Health and Human Services, Penquis will provide services to residents including meals, personal care, homemaker services, help with medications and emergency response.

“We are pleased and honored to have been selected for this important work,” said Penquis Executive Director Charles Newton. “We look forward to serving the residents of Freeses, Merry Gardens and Stearns, and continuing the tradition of quality care and services at these outstanding facilities.”

“I am pleased with the proposal that Penquis delivered and that the organization is ready and willing to assume services Oct. 1,” Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Brenda Harvey said. “The residents of these three facilities will remain in their homes and continue to receive the same quality services. There should not be any interruption of services.”

Newton said that Penquis would work with current EAAA employees to see whether they are interested in continuing to provide services with their agency.

Incorporated in 1967, Penquis has a staff of more than 340 employees and an annual budget of more than $40 million. Penquis operates in all three counties where the affordable assisted living facilities are located —Penobscot, Piscataquis and Knox.

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