PITTSFIELD, Maine — Sebasticook Valley Hospital secured its place for future generations with a ceremonial groundbreaking on Monday afternoon.
Victoria Alexander-Lane, hospital president and CEO, along with U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud helped break ground on the expansion project for the hospital’s inpatient care wing.
“This is a very big event for us because it’s been a long road just to get to here,” said Alexander-Lane. “It’s a culmination of two years of planning — two years of difficult planning.”
The $9.5 million project will expand the hospital’s inpatient care wing from roughly 6,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet. However, it will have the same number of beds — 25.
The major reason for the expansion was patient comfort, said Mike Hodgins, chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees.
“I was born here in 1968,” said Hodgins. “I can assure you that my mother probably thought nothing about having a private room. [My grandparents] also didn’t think much of private rooms or sharing bathrooms, because, quite frankly, that’s the way things were done back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.”
Right now, each room holds four patients, but they all must share the same toilet.
“We’re dealing with an almost intolerable situation for our employees and our patients in our [in-patient care] with four people to a toilet — not just a bathroom, but four people to a toilet,” said Lane.
Because of the bathroom setup, inpatient care has been maxed out at 12 or 14 beds instead of the 25 it has room for, Sebasticook Valley Health Chief Financial Officer Randy Clark said back in April.
Hodgins explained that patient needs have changed over the years and it was time for the hospital, which turns 50 years old next year, to have modern commodities.
“Baby boomers are aging,” he said. “They travel, they stay in spacious hotels, they go to nice restaurants, they drive cars that have gadgets you just can’t imagine. It’s only natural that when those folks are in need of care or when they’re vulnerable or sick, they’re thinking, ‘Why can’t I have all of this in the hospital?’
“So now is the time to move forward,” continued Hodgins. “This project will move us into the next generation of health care.”
Michaud commended Sebasticook Valley Hospital and its staff for awards it has garnered recently.
“Rural hospitals are extremely vital to the well-being of Mainers all across the state,” said the 2nd District Democrat. “You should be proud for being singled out as one of the best in the state of Maine. Sebasticook Valley Health was one of five Maine hospitals to receive [a national award] for clinical excellence.”
Fellow Pittsfield business Cianbro will build the expansion.
“These rooms aren’t really about building something that looks nice,” said Hodgins. “It’s important when you’re in the hospital to have peace, quiet, comfort and all of the technology that goes along with that. So this expansion of the inpatient wing will allow these patients comfort.”