AROOSTOOK COUNTY

Houlton health care facility to expand thanks to federal loan

Posted Feb. 16, 2011, at 3:02 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 16, 2011, at 11:51 p.m.

HOULTON,  Maine — A health care facility that has continued to expand since opening in the community several years ago will see even more growth thanks to a $1.8 million loan from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

The guaranteed community facility loan was given to Katahdin Valley Health Center in partnership with Bangor Savings Bank, according to USDA Rural Development officials. The news was conveyed on Tuesday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who announced investments in 58 projects in 26 states and one territory to improve rural community facilities such as schools, health care facilities, libraries and first responder services and equipment.

“These projects will bring lasting improvements that are essential to maintaining strong rural economies and vibrant communities,” Vilsack said. “Preserving the infrastructure in rural areas is one of many ways that USDA assistance helps create and retain jobs.”

In Houlton, KVHC will use the money to renovate and expand the health center to include a new dental clinic. The project is estimated to save or create approximately 30 jobs.

First opened in Houlton in 2009, KVHC serves more than 4,600 patients annually, most of whom are uninsured or underinsured. The Houlton clinic offers sliding fees to those who meet federal income guidelines, with discounts ranging from 20 to 80 percent per visit.

The facility is served by doctors, a physician assistant, registered nurses and other personnel.

The center offers family medicine, men’s and women’s health care, prescription assistance and a laboratory.

To create the new dental clinic, KVHC will renovate 1,670 square feet of its 4,103-square-foot facility at 59 Bangor Street. The clinic will include dental exam rooms, a dental lab, office and administrative space.

The parking lot also will be expanded and the entire lot repaved.

Based in Patten, KVHC also has a branch in Island Falls and runs a full-service medical and dental clinic in Millinocket.

Virginia Manuel, the USDA Rural Development state director, said Wednesday that she was happy KVHC received the loan. She said the process to get the loan was competitive, but officials on both sides worked hard to secure the funding.

“Providing access to quality health care in the most rural areas of Maine is a high priority at USDA Rural Development,” she said. The funds “will enhance the valuable health care services [KVHC] provides to rural Maine residents.”

Such loans are “a great part of what Rural Development does,” she added.

In Maine, USDA Rural Development has area offices in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston and Scarborough, as well as a state office in Bangor. In fiscal year 2010, USDA Rural Development invested more than $450 million, including leveraged funds, in the state.

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