By Shelley Farrington Lincoln News • May 11, 2023
MILLINOCKET – With the continued support of Maine’s Congressional Delegation, Millinocket Regional Hospital’s request for help funding its emergency department expansion continues to move forward.
It was announced two weeks ago that the hospital’s request for $9.89 million to help with the funding of that expansion had been put forth as a project that should be funded by both Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King. The funding, part of the Congressionally Delegated Spending, or CDS, process is part of a fiscal year 2024 request.
The money isn’t a done deal, said MRH CEO Dr. Robert Peterson, but the fact that both senators put the funding on their respective request lists is a very good sign.
“Several hurdles remain but inclusion on both senators’ request lists is a critical component of the funding ultimately being approved,” Peterson said.
Peterson said it’s incredibly important to continue to provide critical, high-quality medical care in the Katahdin region and other rural communities.
“Critical access hospitals serve vast rural areas of Maine and are the sole source of emergency critical care for the residents of their designated region,” Peterson said. “Investing in rural emergency medicine ensures that life-saving treatment and procedures are equally available to both rural and urban residents of Maine.”
Peterson said in emergency situations response time and quick access to care are keys in providing patients with the best outcomes.
“Without quality emergency services readily accessible those with life-threatening illnesses or injuries will experience poorer outcomes and even avoidable death,” Peterson said.
It’s been 30 years since there were significant upgrades to the hospital emergency department. It has been operating at near or full capacity for almost three years and doesn’t meet the growing and changing needs of staff and patients. Those needs are only going to grow, Peterson said. That is why the expansion and the support of Sens. King and Collins are so important.
“Projects of this magnitude are not achievable without the leadership and support of our elected senators and representatives,” Peterson said. “We are fortunate to be represented by two senators who understand the critical needs of the citizens they serve. We are blessed and grateful.”
The plans for the expansion include the renovation of the current 4,823 sq. ft. footprint as well as a 5,628 sq. ft. addition. The new and added space will provide essential treatment space and care-oriented upgrades to better serve the public. There will be three specialized trauma and cardiac care rooms and four dedicated rooms for psychiatric and substance use disorder patients who are waiting for placement at other facilities.
A Congressional Committee still has to review requests to determine what will be funded and once the final list is determined an appropriation bill will need to be passed by the full Congress and signed by the president. Sens. King and Collings have committed to working collaboratively with other senators to ensure as many Maine projects as possible are funded in the final bill.
“We are eternally grateful to Sen. Collins and Sen. King for recognizing the value of critical access hospitals in Maine and the importance of maintaining them to ensure that the health and well being of the future generations in the Katahdin region is not compromised.”
Citizens can also donate a tax-deductible gift to the expansion or other hospital initiatives through the MRH Legacy Medical Foundation. For more information contact President Michael Crowley at 207-723-7419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.