Thursday, December 26, 2002

Maine Med outlines plan for Scarborough expansion

Published in the Current

Maine Medical Center wants to expand its presence in Scarborough and is hoping to have at least one new building open in mid-2006. It may also acquire land adjacent to its existing campus to expand further in the future.

Speaking to members of the Scarborough Chamber of Commerce, Maine Med CEO Vincent Conti said the hospital’s site on Route 1 “is going to be a growth area for us.”

There are now three buildings on the eight-acre lot, including a 100,000-square-foot medical office and laboratory, a 55,000-square-foot medical research building and an 80,000-square-foot medical office building.

Conti, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, said the location is a good one in terms of access and parking, both of which are issues for the hospital’s main campus on Bramhall Hill in Portland.

Because of that, and because of available space on the site – enough to add\ three more buildings and a parking garage – Maine Med wants to move its outpatient surgery services to Scarborough, Conti said.

That is expected to be the first phase of the project because of increased demand for day surgery and because existing facilities, at Brighton FirstCare on Brighton Avenue in Portland and at the main hospital itself are already feeling a space crunch, Conti said

“Surgery is very much going in the direction of outpatient,” Conti said. And as for the space at Brighton, “we have outgrown it.”

The new building will house 10 operating rooms for day surgery procedures, which are typically less invasive and smaller-scale than inpatient surgery. It will also hold some additional services that might be needed if the smaller procedures develop complications, Conti said.

“Most outpatient surgery doesn’t turn into inpatient care,” Conti said, adding that Maine Med already has a functioning outpatient surgery facility at Brighton, which is also some distance from the hospital.

With the new Scarborough building will come an increased need for parking, Conti said. That’s where the garage comes in. It will be built as far back from Route 1 as is possible on the lot, which drew praise from chamber member Fred Kilfoil, owner of the Millbrook Motel on Route 1.

“I’ve never seen an attractive parking garage,” he said.

State Rep. Harold Clough, who had reviewed an initial plan for the site, asked about whether underground parking was still being considered.

Conti said it wasn’t because of the expense and the fact that an above-ground garage would provide enough parking on the site.

Before it can build the operating rooms proposed, Maine Med needs to prove to the state that it needs the space, Conti said, which can take as long as a year. That process has not yet begun. The project would also require site plan approval from the town.

Maine Med is also reviewing what it could do with the space at Brighton that would be emptied when the existing operating rooms move, Conti said. New England Rehab Hospital already occupies a lot of the space at Brighton and might expand, he said.

Also, Conti is looking at moving other services from the Bramhall Hill facility over to Brighton. “At this point we’re looking at a number of different options,” he said.

Conti said Maine Med might also look into purchasing a lot just south of the existing property, for possible additional expansion in Scarborough.