Maine Medical Center notifies state of $40M renovation project

Posted Sept. 26, 2012, at 3:58 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Medical Center has notified the state that it’s planning a $40 million expansion and update of several of the hospital’s operating rooms.

MMC plans to replace and modernize five surgical rooms to help the hospital accommodate surgeries that are increasing in volume and complexity, said Mark Harris, senior vice president of planning and marketing for MMC and its parent organization, MaineHealth.

“We’re pretty compressed with regard to our surgical capacity,” he said. “What I mean by that is we’re operating very early in the morning and very late at night. This will help decompress that activity.”

MMC performs approximately 28,000 surgeries each year in its 34 operating rooms.

Earlier this month, MMC notified the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Certificate of Need unit, which evaluates health care projects, that it planned to pursue the renovations. It’s an early step, which will be followed in coming months by MMC submitting a formal application after its board of directors approves final plans.

MMC expects to invest $40 million in capital into the project, but the board still must determine the effect on the hospital’s operating expenses, Harris said.

If the board’s review and regulatory approvals proceed without a hitch, construction would kick off next spring, Harris said. The project will involve renovating the second floor of the Bean building on MMC’s Bramhall Street campus and wouldn’t be visible from the street.

The existing operating rooms date back to 1984, and at about 400 square feet, aren’t large enough for many modern surgeries, Harris said. The new 650-square-foot rooms will be known as “interventional rooms” that can house not only surgeries, but other services as needed, such as radiology and cardiac catheterization, he said.

The added space would better suit today’s complex procedures, Harris said, including a cutting-edge operation now offered at MMC as an alternative to traditional open heart surgery that requires both a cardiologist and a heart surgeon to be in the room at the same time.

“With today’s equipment and the number of specialists required, the technology needed for very sophisticated interventional activity, [the rooms] need to be bigger,” he said.

The renovation also will involve updating the area where surgical equipment is prepared and sterilized for delivery to operating rooms, Harris said.

The renovation project marks the first stage of a master plan for the facility that was put in place a decade ago, he said.

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