CAMDEN, Maine — The first patients are expected to arrive this week at the McLean Borden Cottage, ending a controversial two-year effort by supporters to open the high-end substance abuse and mental health treatment center.
Fox Hill Real Estate and McLean officials gave the media a tour Monday afternoon of the facility that has an expansive view of Penobscot Bay and will cost each patient $50,000 to $60,000 for a month-long stay.
Dr. Philip Levendusky, the senior vice president for business development and director of psychology at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, said the Camden facility will not only be an important treatment center but will be a constructive member of the Camden community.
The treatment center has met stiff resistance from neighbors and other residents of Camden since it was first proposed in February 2013. The Select Board refused to send a referendum out to voters to amend the town’s zoning law to allow the center to operate in the residential Bay View Street neighborhood. The proponents responded by reducing the number of beds proposed for the facility from 12 to eight, which allowed the facility to bypass town regulations.
Neighbors then filed a federal lawsuit to counter that move, but it was dismissed by a federal judge more than a month ago and the appeal period has expired.
Levendusky pointed out that McLean has already become part of the community as five senior McLean professionals had come up from Massachusetts to make public presentations in Camden and Rockland on a variety of health care topics. They also will be providing professional training to medical staff at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport.
He also said McLean has followed through on its promise to hire local people. Levendusky said of the 23 to 24 people hired thus far, only one has previously been employed by McLean. The ultimate goal when the Borden Cottage is running at capacity is to have 35 people employed. The annual payroll will be $1.5 million.
The McLean center also has contracted with up to a dozen area professionals such as dieticians, personal trainers, massage therapists, yoga instructors, art and music instructors to provide services to the wealthy patients.
The new complex also will have an economic effect on area businesses, including in food and pharmacy services. For instance, the center is negotiating with the Camden Harbour Inn to provide meals for the patients and will be getting its pharmaceuticals from Jensen’s Pharmacy in Rockland, he said.
Tom Rodman, who heads Fox Hill Real Estate, said Fox Hill spent $1.5 million on renovations to the 16,000-square-foot home that sits on nearly 14 acres. Fox Hill had been one of the homes of former MBNA Chief Executive Officer Charles Cawley. Fox Hill is leasing the complex to McLean.
Each patient will have a private room and bathroom.
The estate has a fitness center, which includes a four-lane regulation size bowling alley as well as billiard tables, exercise machines and arcade games. There is a building where art therapy can be provided, and there is a hair salon for patients.
A music studio is under construction to serve patients as well, Rodman said.
An outdoor pool also is available for patients on the estate that is hidden away on a back road in Camden.
One strategy of treatment is to show patients they can relieve stress in ways other than consuming alcohol or drugs, Levendusky said. Patients’ days will be full of individual and group counseling along with the various activities offered at Borden Cottage.
The psychiatric field has evolved, Levendusky said, to realize that substance abuse and mental health illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorders are interconnected.
Dr. Frederick Googins, the medical director for Borden Cottage and chairman of the psychiatric department for Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, said that with proper treatment, there is a good outcome for two-thirds of patients who go into rehab. He said while the residential treatment will be over in 28 to 30 days, treatment is a life-long process like other diseases such as diabetes.
McLean’s decision to locate in Camden came at the urging of Rodman. Rodman said a friend told him about Fox Hill being for sale and suggested it would be an excellent location for a high-end rehabilitation center. After Rodman personally visited the property, he realized this was the perfect spot.