BANGOR, Maine – Health care clinic expansions in Bangor, Houlton and Millinocket will proceed next year, serving 14,574 new patients, thanks to a $5.05 million grant awarded Friday under the federal AffordableCare Act, officials said.
The grants, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, are among $727 million awarded to 143 community health centers nationwide to address pressing construction and renovation needs and expand health care access.
“There is no question that the economic downturn has made it harder for some Americans to get health care and important preventive services. Community health centers provide quality healthcare services to Americans across the country but are a life line for those who have lost coverage or are between jobs,” Sebelius said in a statement released Friday.
“The newly constructed or expanded community health centers will provide care to an additional 745,000 patients and much-needed employment opportunities in both rural and urban under-served communities,” she added.
As part of a $2.1 million allocation, the Penobscot Community Health Center of Bangor will construct a new 8,000-square-foot building between two existing facilities, a dental facility and an adjacent pediatric facility, on Union Street in Bangor.
The new building will contain administrative space; pediatric caseworkers; a waiting area for pediatrics and dental, pediatric physical therapy, and pediatric speech therapy patients; and a pharmacy. The building will also link the two existing buildings.
The Katahdin Valley Health Center of Patten will construct an 8,464-square-foot addition to its Millinocket Health Center at 180 Aroostook Ave. in Millinocket with its $2,9 million allocation. The expanded facility will contain dental space, medical exam rooms, provider offices, a meeting-training room and support areas.
Renovations will also occur in the 70-year-old, 1,500-square-foot Millinocket center. These improvements will provide increased access to primary and dental care services, officials said.
Also as part of the $2.9 million grant, KVHC will renovate 1,670 square feet of its 4,103-square-foot facility at 59 Bangor St. in Houlton, to create dental clinic space.
The renovation will add four dental exam rooms, a high-tech dental laboratory, a waiting area, an administrative office, a reception area, two bathrooms and storage, as well as install a more efficient heating system to accommodate the extra space.
The parking lot will also be expanded and the entire lot repaved.
It was unclear Friday whether the Houlton construction would be paid for as part of the $5.05 million allocation or another grant.
“The true beneficiaries of this grant will be the communities and the patients that we serve,” said Durward Humphrey, chief executive officer of the Katahdin Valley Health Center.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud called the awards “fantastic news for these communities.
“I worked to support these projects because they will further expand access to quality health care in our state as well as create much needed jobs,” Michaud said.
Across the country, community health centers serve nearly 19 million patients, about 40 percent of whom have no health insurance. Community health centers deliver care at more than 7,900 service delivery sites around the country to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Charges for services are set according to income.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story did not correctly describe Kathleen Sebelius’ position.