A medical tourism facility project in Auburn is at a standstill. The plan to build a 5-star medical recovery center was unveiled two years ago by a Chinese investment company. But the company is waiting for approval from the federal government.
The medical tourism facility — which would cater to wealthy Chinese tourists – was originally scheduled to open this year. But Ericka Dodge, spokeswoman for Central Maine Medical Center, says hospital officials have not been in touch with the Chinese company behind the project – Miracle Enterprise – for some time.
“Our new CEO Jeff Brickman, who got here about six months ago, has not been in contact with them,” said Dodge.
The project was announced under former CEO Peter Chalke, who said the hospital was a partner. When he retired last summer, Dodge said, it’s her understanding that the ball was left in Miracle Enterprise’s court, who was looking for investors.
“Ya know, we’re here, and we’re willing and ready to pursue partnerships in the community that help continue to serve and provide high quality health care,” Dodge said. “But it’s hard to talk about something that’s very nebulous, and the details of this project is very nebulous.”
Last summer, Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said the city was doing what it could to create infrastructure to support the 200-room medical recovery center. Auburn city officials did not respond to requests for comment for this story, but a spokesman for the Maine Department for Economic and Community Development, Doug Ray, said the state has been in regular contact with a consultant for Miracle Enterprise – who says the company is awaiting approval of a federal application.
“They’re in the same boat we’re in right now,” said Ray. “They are in a holding pattern, awaiting the approval of the EB-5 regional center so they can move forward.”
Maine applied to become an EB-5 regional center more than a year ago. It would allow foreign investors to fast-track through the immigration process if they invest at least a half million dollars into a project that creates at least 10 jobs. Ray said the state is expecting to hear any day. If approved, he said, the state hopes to apply the program to the medical tourism project and others.