HAMPDEN, Maine — Eastern Maine Medical Center executives’ desire for continued expansion and Hampden town officials’ desire for continued economic growth have combined to create a new primary care physicians and medical center in Hampden.
Renovations at the former Rite Aid store space at 7-13 Main Road North have been ongoing for about six weeks and are expected to be completed in time for Hampden Family Medicine to open in mid-July.
“We have practices in Orono, Brewer and Union Street, so geographically we feel this was a gap in our coverage umbrella,” said John Branscombe, EMMC’s administrator for physician practices. “We’ve built the practice to be sort of a flagship involving physician practices and we’re looking forward to being there.”
Dr. James Raczek, EMMC’s senior vice president of operations and chief medical officer, said the timing for this project was perfect.
“It was the right size for a relatively large practice,” he said. “Also, it helps in the growth of our inpatient facility as well as we move forward with our modernization project. From an economic growth perspective, you have to have a good medical services infrastructure to maintain any kind of growth.”
The 11,400-square-foot space is being leased to accommodate a family care medical office staffed with four physicians among a total projected staff of about 32 people.
“It’s built to have four nurse practitioners or physician assistants and also four primary care providers at the physician level,” Raczek explained. “The ratio of that could change depending on who we recruit to fill positions.”
Regardless of the staff makeup, Hampden town officials are thrilled to have EMMC join the community.
“It’s great. This is huge,” said Dean Bennett, Hampden’s community and economic development director. “It’s all about providing a needed service here locally.”
The location is part of the same 26,000-square-foot Hampden Shopping Center complex that currently houses a physical therapy business, Schacht’s True Value Hardware and V and S Variety.
“Its plan calls for around 24 offices, plus lab space, a waiting area, triage, checkout area and inner office space,” said Ben Johnson, Hampden’s code enforcement officer. “This is a big renovation that will increase the value of that space significantly.”
The original building that occupied the 2½-acre site was built in 1966 and renovated in 1995, according to records in the Hampden assessor’s office. Rite Aid bought it in 1995, demolished the old building and built the current structure. It operated there until May 2010, when it moved to its current location on Western Avenue.
Branscombe said EMMC began leasing the space in November.
Raczek said this will be EMMC’s seventh primary care practice.
“We have about 40 total physician practices under EMMC employment,” he said. “One of the things that’s very important as we get into health care reform, we need a better primary care base for patients and Hampden is an area where EMMC has not had a prime care practice.”
Branscombe said this is a good fit for everyone involved.
“It kind of goes back to where we were looking at where our patients are and there’s a movement in our field to get people or keep people home for care and treatment,” Branscombe said. “This is a practice with more of a relationship aspect to it as far as family practice.”