Houlton hospital to undergo renovations

Posted Sept. 11, 2010, at 12:21 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:50 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — A grant from the federal government, combined with equal parts of Houlton Regional Hospital’s own money, will enable the health care facility to undergo a significant renovation over the next two years.

Officials at the critical access hospital announced Friday that they would use a $247,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration and $247,500 from its own coffers to renovate and upgrade the Houlton Family Practice Rural Health Clinic.

The 2,200-square-foot clinic is located on the top floor of the hospital’s medical office building and is home to two obstetrical providers and four family practice providers.

The announcement was made in the presence of U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who was instrumental in helping to secure the funding, Tom Moakler, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said Friday.

Moakler said the project would renovate the current suite to improve patient flow. Funding also will be used to renovate an additional 1,700 square feet of adjacent office space, which houses a urology practice. That practice will be relocated to another part of the medical office building, according to the CEO.

The current clinic space is too small to meet the needs of the providers and the patients they care for, according to Mike Fogarty, director of physician practices and rural health clinics at the hospital. The narrow hallways and tiny exam rooms were jammed with patients, doctors, nurses, equipment and staff members during a tour Fogarty gave of the facility Friday.

The renovated area will provide more area for exam rooms, office space and patient files. It also will accommodate an additional provider who will be recruited once the project nears completion.

The additional provider is a necessary addition to the hospital, Moakler said.

“Many providers aren’t even accepting new patients — they are that busy,” he said. “And when you get an appointment, you could be waiting awhile.”

Moakler added that the issue also pushes more people to visit the emergency room because they can’t get in to see their primary care physician.

“This should lessen traffic in the ER,” he said.

The CEO thanked Michaud for his assistance in securing the money. The congressman said he was pleased to see that the renovation project would take place.

Planning and design for the project will begin early next year and construction is expected to begin next August.

The project should be completed in March 2012.