For nearly 120 years, Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast has delivered excellent care for patients and their families in a friendly, caring atmosphere. This new year promises to be one of the hospital’s biggest—and it follows an equally remarkable 2017 in terms of customer-focused developments.

“I think some of the most exciting developments [from 2017] were with the opening of the new medical office building located across from the hospital,” said Erik Frederick, the regional chief operating officer of Coastal Health Care Alliance, the parent organization for both Waldo County General Hospital and Pen Bay Medical Center. “It gave us an opportunity to bring together a number of our primary care physicians into one setting in a new facility that’s more patient-centered.”

He said the new center provides more opportunities for physicians to be co-located, which increases opportunities for them to interact and, in turn, provide better patient care. The first floor of the new building is dedicated to primary care and brings formerly disparate departments closer together. The second floor, he said, features a simulation lab to provide clinical colleagues with hands-on continuing education.

“The lab is a huge benefit to the clinicians who can go in there and practice on the simulation patients and improve or maintain their skills,” said Frederick.

2017 also saw the addition of the Ann Hooper Center for Womens Imaging. The center provides advanced breast imaging through 3D mammography, a newer piece of technology that’s been recently added to both Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital. Frederick said the center can also provide bone density analyses and needle biopsies in a private, boutique setting.

“[The center] is one of the only, if not the only, center like it in the state,” said Frederick. “It allows patients to stay close to home and continue to receive care without having to travel to Bangor, Augusta, or Portland for more advanced imaging.“

2018 promises to be just as exciting, with new technology upgrades preceding a large-scale, $8.1 million emergency room expansion. The expansion will increase the number of patient beds from nine to 15, said Frederick, and will allow for more private exam rooms as well as larger staff workspaces.

“We see over 15,000 patients a year come through the Waldo County Hospital Emergency Room,” said Frederick. “The expansion will add some new beds to better care for the patients that we have, but also improve the workspaces for the folks that are doing work there.”

The other key part of the expansion, said Frederick, is dedicated space for behavioral health care patients.

“In many hospitals, when people come to the emergency room and they need psychiatric care, they’re often held there while waiting for placement,” he said. “It’s not an ideal situation. [The expansion] will provide more dedicated space for those patients to have more privacy and start getting access to care sooner.”

The expansion is expected to begin this spring and last about eight months.

“It’s really going to change the face of the hospital, provide a better environment for the entire community to receive care, update the technology, and create a better work environment,” said Frederick. “It will be a real game changer. We’re very excited about it.”

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