May 22, 2018
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$14M Sebasticook Valley Hospital expansion project on schedule

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

PITTSFIELD, Maine — The first phase of a $14 million expansion project at Sebasticook Valley Hospital is on schedule and fundraising goals are ahead of expectations, according to Chief Administrative Officer Mike Peterson.

Groundbreaking on the inpatient care expansion took place in June, and Peterson said they aim to have the building enclosed by mid-December.

He added that the hospital has reached 25 percent of its donation goal of $2 million, without yet having gone public.

Currently, Sebasticook Valley Hospital has 25 patient beds, but many of the rooms have four beds to just one toilet. The project will keep the hospital’s bed count at 25, but will have 20 private rooms and five supersuites. The existing inpatient area is between roughly 6,000 square feet, while the addition will expand that to roughly 14,000 square feet.

“With infection control issues, it’s not a great place with patient expectations,” said Peterson. “Frankly, it doesn’t meet our mission of treating people with dignity and respect.”

He said that because of the infection control issues and being unable to place males and females in a room that would share the same toilet, the hospital often reaches a maximum capacity at 14 patients.

“Going to mostly private rooms will allow us to grow our capacity, which actually grows our revenue without raising our prices,” said Peterson.

The first and second phases of the project are scheduled to be completed in June, with the third phase of renovating existing inpatient care space starting in July, said Peterson. The entire project should be completed in November 2013, when the hospital turns 50 years old.

The project has 22 contractors, of which 19 are based in Maine.

“We’re keeping people from Maine at work as well,” he said. “We really think this is an economic driver for the state.”

The lower level of the new wing has been largely set aside to be a future project.

“It includes our central utilities plant, which is, hypothetically, a separate project because we need a new plant anyway,” said Peterson.

A new cafeteria and kitchen will move into the area in the future.

“That will free up space in our existing building to look at expanding our ER and expanding our clinical space,” he said. “It’s like dominoes. You have to move one piece to place the next and it kind of all falls into place.”

Future projects, Peterson said, will depend upon need and finances.

He added that by improving the inpatient facility, the hospital will be able to bring its physical structure up to its award-winning standard of care.

“Now our facility will be raised to that bar,” Peterson said.

Sebasticook Valley Hospital has been recognized with many awards, including being named by VHA as one of the top 10 critical access hospitals in the country for clinical excellence and, for the second year in a row, recognized as one of the best rural health care hospitals in the United States by the Leapfrog Group.

“Not only do we provide excellent quality patient care, as evidenced by our awards, excellent providers and compassionate staff, but in many cases, we provide this excellent care at a lower cost which equals real health care value to consumers,” said Victoria Alexander-Lane, chief executive officer of Sebasticook Valley Hospital. “Our renovated and expanded building will provide the final leg of the stool to complete a superior patient experience.”

Liisa Haapanen Janelle, chief human relations officer for Sebasticook Valley Hospital, said employees and senior team members have raised about $200,000 for the project. Peterson added that, in total, pledges are just shy of $500,000.

“It’s exciting to see the number of employees who have contributed,” said Haapanen Janelle.

Peterson said the hospital will ask the public for donations in March.

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