U.S. spending bill includes $6.5M for Maine health care providers
Over $1.6 million will go toward Paramedic Alliance for Community Emergencies station upgrades
By Emily Bader
LEWISTON, Maine — Maine's congressional delegation earmarked over $6.5 million for tri-county health care providers to upgrade facilities, purchase equipment and expand services in the massive omnibus spending bill approved by Congress last week.
Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden secured millions of dollars in the federal spending bill for more than 200 Maine-based projects and organizations, including $4 million for health care services in Androscoggin County and nearly $2.5 million for services in Oxford County.
The largest request was made by Collins, who asked for $2 million for Community Clinical Services' B-Street Health Center at Bates and Birch streets in Lewiston. The service is a federally qualified health center affiliated with St. Mary's Health System and offers medical, behavioral and dental services to any patient, regardless of their ability to pay.
"This funding will allow B-Street to expand the essential health and dental care it provides to vulnerable populations in the Lewiston- Auburn region," Collins said in a statement.
Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway will receive over $1.6 million to upgrade the HVAC system, sleeping quarters, work and training space and garage at its PACE paramedic station, in a joint request made by Collins, King and Golden.
PACE, which stands for Paramedic Alliance for Community Emergencies, is a department of Stephens Memorial Hospital and the only paramedic-licensed service in Oxford County, according to SMH's website. The station needs "significant upgrades and renovations" and was identified as a top priority for the hospital to address, senior director of operations and ancillary services, Timothy Ingram, said in a statement provided by King's office.
PACE serves 18 communities in rural western Maine.
"This critical funding will support renovations to the PACE ambulance station, providing sufficient space and modern equipment to ensure crews deliver the best care possible. Improved storage will preserve and make gear more accessible when seconds can be a matter of life and death," Ingram said.
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St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston is set to receive $945,000 to install an HVAC system and convert three single-occupancy rooms into negative pressure-capable rooms on its C2 unit in a request from Collins and King.
C2 is a 28-patient general admission unit housed in a wing originally built in the 1960s, St. Mary's spokesperson Steve Costello said in an email.
"Construction for the unit began at a time when air quality standards and regulations were not as rigorous as today. As a result, C2 lacks an air quality system and does not meet the health care industry's high-quality standards for climate control and air circulation," he said.
Making these improvements has "become even more imperative" with the resurgence in COVID-19, influenza and RSV, St. Mary's President Steve Jorgensen said.
Among the other requests is $725,000 for Lewiston-based Dempsey Centers for Quality Cancer Care to purchase two mobile units to bring physical and emotional support to rural Mainers.
"This funding will help the Dempsey Center's compassionate staff and volunteers reach more rural cancer patients and their families," Collins said.
Requests from Collins, King and Golden include:
- $2 million for B-Street Health Center in Lewiston to upgrade facilities and buy equipment needed to expand medical, mental health and dental care services.
- $1.6 million for MaineHealth to upgrade facilities and buy equipment for Stephens Memorial Hospital's PACE paramedic station in Norway.
- $945,000 for St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston to upgrade the hospital's C2 unit.
- $820,000 for Central Maine Healthcare to purchase medical equipment for Bridgton and Rumford hospitals.
- $725,000 for Lewiston-based Dempsey Centers for Quality Cancer Care to purchase two mobile units that will provide physical and emotional support to rural Mainers.
- $236,000 for Lewiston-based Androscoggin Home Health and Hospice to support the Maine Center for Palliative Medicine and establish a nurse practitioner fellowship program.
- $175,000 for Lewiston-based Tri-County Mental Health Services to repair community health clinics.
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