ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Ellsworth Family Practice, a network of primary care practitioners that is part of the Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, will move to a new, larger location on Beechland Road in 2014. The move is part of the hospital’s shift of emphasis toward outpatient treatment and away from emergency care.
“We’re really re-orienting,” said Charlie Therrien, president of the hospital. “We have an opportunity to improve care by addressing the patient’s needs before they reach the stage of hospitalization.”
Preparations for the transition begin even as the hospital’s budget is shrinking. In October, the hospital told its employees that the annual budget will be cut by $3 million. As a result, 11 staff members were laid off, 13 unfilled positions were eliminated and five positions were changed.
“It was due to the shifting of where those patient volumes are,” Patricia Patterson King, director of marketing and public relations, said of the layoffs.
The hospital has seen a simultaneous increase in outpatients and decrease in inpatients, according to King.
“People are learning more about how to take care of themselves and they’re going to the doctor,” King said. “That does mean that there is an increased demand for physicians and for appointment times.”
The clinic, which shares a building with Maine Coast Pediatrics and Ellsworth Internal Medicine on Resort Way, is expected to be open for business in what was formerly the Redlon & Johnson Plumbing supply building in June, according to King.
Therrien said he was not yet comfortable estimating the cost of the new project.
Hospital officials are working with the architecture firm Design Group Collaborative as well as the owners of the building to draw up plans for the 9,000-square-foot space. The hospital will lease the space from the owner.
The design of the facility will reflect a new approach to health care for the clinic.
“We’re looking to design it in a way that we can integrate more team-based care,” Therrien said. He envisions a room where providers, nurses and specialists can meet to discuss a particular patient’s diverse set of needs with or without the patient present.
The facility also will be able to accommodate care managers, or nurses, who follow up with patients to make sure they are having the right tests done, taking the proper medications and pursuing other steps necessary to ensure good health.
There will be six or seven providers and a pharmacist on hand when the new space opens and patients will be able to make appointments on Sundays.
For the next six months before the clinic moves, patients at the Ellsworth Family Practice should not expect any changes to their service.
City Manager Michelle Beal said the expansion is good for Ellsworth because the clinic will be moving to an area where the city is trying to encourage development. Beechland Road will be reconstructed next year to accommodate an increase in traffic.
“They’re doing what is necessary to be sustainable as a hospital,” Beal said, applauding the decision to relocate. “I think it’s a smart plan and a smart expansion.”