Penobscot Community Health Care plans to open a new pediatric center in the former Verizon Wireless call center at 6 Telcom Drive in Bangor in the fall of 2019.
The new center is not far from the organization’s current pediatric center at 1068 Union St. in Bangor and three other PCHC buildings. The Telcom Drive building has been vacant since Verizon Wireless closed the call center in March 2017.
“It’s a fully integrated pediatric center with everything in one space,” Lori Dwyer, president and CEO of PCHC, said. “The space we are in now is too small.”
PCHC is the sixth largest employer in Penobscot County and has more than 750 employees in 16 locations in northeastern Maine stretching from Bangor to Old Town, Brewer, Winterport, Belfast and Jackman.
The new center would more than double the size of the current pediatric center, which serves 10,000 patients per year and cramps 40 employees and 15 providers into 8,000 square feet. The new space on the second floor of the Telcom Drive building has 20,000 square feet.
The new center will have 30 exam rooms, up from 21 at the current site. Pediatric care runs until age 20.
Dwyer said jobs will be created during the first year of occupancy in the new building, but she did not know yet how many.
The new location also will include a pharmacy as well as primary care and mental health services. The speech therapy and audiology services currently at 992 Union St. also will be moved to the 10,000-square-foot first floor of the Telcom Drive building.
The new center also will be home to the Key Clinic that examines foster children within the required 10 days of intake and the CHAMP Clinic, a collaborative outpatient service with Eastern Maine Medical Center to wean infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome off medication. PCHC plans to add family therapy services in the future.
PCHC plans to add a community room for family therapy sessions and staff or patient education on the first floor. Groups also could use it for training sessions, meetings or events.
Services for other patients will be juggled around in the 1068 Union St. and 992 Union St. locations. The 992 Union St. location also houses dermatology, a laboratory and women’s health.
“There’s a lot in flux,” Dwyer said. “We’re moving and adding new services.”
PCHC is a designated federally qualified health center, meaning it gets a federal grant from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration to care for low-income patients.
It is the largest of the 19 community health centers in Maine.
“Community Health Centers provide comprehensive health services to everyone in the communities we serve regardless of their ability to pay,” Dwyer said. PCHC is able to write off $5 million in uncompensated care fees annually for the lower income patients. That care makes up less than 10 percent of its patient service revenue.
Dwyer said helping people early in life, especially when they may come from a challenging home situation or suffer from food insecurity, is important to Maine’s economy.
“Serving the pediatric population is critical to the state’s future,” she said. “We can see that the child gets the best possible start and address early trauma so they can become productive adults. In the process, we’ll create jobs and help the state.
“We have to do better for our children in this state,” she said.
David St. Germain, owner of development and investment company Sky Villa LLC of Bangor, bought the 6 Telcom Drive building and closed on it on June 27. The building sold for $1.85 million, according to the Bangor assessor’s office. The building and land were assessed at $4.18 million in 2018.
“This is my biggest purchase ever,” St. Germain said. “And it’s a major move for PCHC.”
St. Germain previously worked with PCHC as a project manager when it opened its 28,000-square-foot Brewer Medical Center on Wilson Street in June 2010. But he won’t be the general contractor on the Telcom Drive building.
PCHC is working with TAC Architectural Group of Bangor, but has yet to hire a general contractor.
St. Germain also invests in residential real estate, but recently his commercial investments have been medical buildings.
Two years ago, he bought the building he now leases to Wellspring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, a residential and outpatient services program at 646 Main Road North in Hampden.
St. Germain said he also is under contract to buy a medical building at 68 Mount Hope Ave. in Bangor and hopes to close the sale within the next 60 days. Bangor Family Planning is a tenant in the building.
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Correction: A previous version of this report listed an incorrect intake interval for assessment of foster children.