Maine Medical Center files certificate of need for Portland expansion

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PORTLAND — As the Planning Board continues to discuss zoning to allow Maine Medical Center to expand, the state will weigh in on the need for an expansion.

Hospital spokesman Clay Holtzman said March 17 press release the hospital has filed a certificate of need with the state Department of Health and Human Services that covers about $392 million of the $512 million cost for the build-out.

“We are confident the Department of Health and Human Services’ Certificate of Need Unit will see that this investment is vital to our continuing ability to provide world-class care to those who choose the state’s largest major medical center,” MMC President and Chief Executive Officer Rich Petersen said in the press release.

Holtzman said about $50 million for outpatient facilities and $70 million for “non-clinical” construction – including a 13-story parking garage – do not need state review.

Converting 128 beds from shared rooms to single rooms is the primary objective of the medical expansion. The hospital now faces a shortage of beds because of increased demand and changing medical needs for patients, according to the press release.

“Many of the patients treated at Maine Medical Center today are simply too sick to have a roommate. This, combined with concerns such as matching patients in semi-private rooms by gender, on a typical day leads to 60 or more bed closures,” the application for a certificate of need said.

Holtzman said the bed shortage has also affected emergency care and the hospital’s ability to accept patient transfers from other hospitals.

MMC is also seeking approval to upgrade and expand its procedure rooms and supporting areas, such as sterilization and family waiting rooms. The certificate application notes the procedure rooms are about two-thirds the size of current standards; the hospital seeks to build or expand 19 procedure rooms.

“Maine Medical Center plans to pay for the project through a combination of borrowed funds, reserves and philanthropy,” Holtzman said.

On Tuesday, March, 28, the Planning Board will hold a 4:30 p.m. public hearing on a city application to create new institutional overlay zones to provide the framework for managing growth and expansion at MMC, Mercy Hospital, the University of New England and University of Southern Maine.

The zones would require individual institutional development plans, such as the draft of a plan presented in January by MMC.

The plan outlines potential growth and transformations over the next 20 years, including the removal of an employee parking garage on Congress Street, which would be replaced by a six-story office building.

MMC also intends to add two floors to its East Tower to accommodate 64 beds, add three floors to the existing visitor parking garage, and build the 13-story garage on Gilman Street. The plan also calls for shifting the main hospital entrance to Congress Street.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Officials at Maine Medical Center, seen March 20, have applied to the state for approval of a $512 million expansion plan. The Portland Planning Board on March 28 will discuss the zoning needed for the expansion.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.