PITTSFIELD, Maine — As Sebasticook Valley Hospital closes in on its 50th anniversary, improvements continue to be made to ensure the building is around for another 50 years.
Sebasticook Valley Health CEO Victoria Alexander-Lane recently unveiled a $9.5 million project to expand the hospital’s inpatient care.
“It’s really going to be a renovation, and the renovation is going to increase our square footage,” said Alexander-Lane.
The hospital, which turns 50 next year, features 25 patient rooms. The renovation will keep that number at 25 but the rooms will be bigger and more patient-friendly.
“With the current bathrooms we have, four people have to share a toilet. Not a bathroom, but a toilet,” said Alexander-Lane.
That creates infection and convenience issues, she said.
“If you have four people that are sick, and one is trying to use the bathroom, if someone else has to use it at the same time, it’s somewhat disastrous,” said Alexander-Lane.
Because of those obstacles, the hospital has avoided filling rooms at times.
“Even though, right now, we have 25 beds, we’re maxed out at 12, 13, 14 [beds] because of those issues that we’re having because we’re sharing one bathroom with four patients,” said Sebasticook Valley Health Chief Financial Officer Randy Clark.
SVH has hired Cianbro to complete the project, which is expected to begin in June.
“The existing [inpatient wing] is about 5,000-6,000 square feet,” said Clark. “We’re going to add on [to make it] about 13,000-14,000 square feet.”
“We’re going to have 20 private rooms and five of those rooms will be supersuites [that will have a removable wall],” said Alexander-Lane, adding that the rooms will have their own bathrooms.
Parking congestion near the main entrance also will be freed up by moving the hospital’s receiving dock to the lower level of the new expansion, just beneath the new inpatient wing.
The hospital has about 250 employees. Approximately 15,000 patients a year visit SVH’s emergency room.
“[Right now], it’s almost a nightmare of people coming and going for patients and deliveries. And it’s a very short place to turn around [with a vehicle],” said Alexander-Lane. “It’s almost to the point where it’s dangerous.”
The site plan has been approved by the Pittsfield Planning Board. The next steps are presenting a full set of plans to the board and securing financing.
Clark said $2 million for the project was generated through fundraising from surrounding communities while $3 million came from SVH. The remainder will be borrowed.
“We have a good balance of three sources of funding instead of borrowing all of it,” said Clark.
Alexander-Lane said a more ambitious $22 million master project was scrapped in favor of this one.
“In this day and age in health care, and where we’re going with health care, we did not want to put the hospital at risk or overburden the community with extravagant costs,” said Alexander-Lane. “So we worked really, really, really hard to come up with an innovative plan.”
This will be the third major renovation for the building in the past decade. In 2002, the hospital created a private entrance for its women’s health department with a new mammography area. Two years later, the hospital added a second operating room.
Clark said these renovations will help keep Sebasticook Valley Hospital secure for years to come.
“Fifty years ago, some people got together and said we want a hospital in this community,” said Clark. “This facility was great for now. Now we’re making it better for the next 50 years.”