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November 24, 2021

Maine Med plans to make its big expansion even bigger, nearing $600M in costs

rendering of building Courtesy / Maine Medical Center This rendering of Maine Medical Center’s Malone Family Tower shows a proposed addition atop the building.

Greater bed capacity and an accelerated timetable are part of a newly modified proposal for Maine Medical Center’s Malone Family Tower construction project.

The building is the final piece in the Portland hospital’s ongoing $534 million expansion and modernization project, which launched three years ago.

Construction of the 265,000-square-foot Malone Tower is underway on Congress Street. The new structure will reorient the hospital to Congress Street, expand availability of private rooms and provide new procedure space for cardiovascular care.

Accelerated build-out

Maine Med on Tuesday said it plans to seek city and state approval for the modifications, which are intended to improve access to care and make functions more efficient.

The proposed changes include: 

• Acceleration of the build-out schedule of the tower’s fifth floor, so that floor and its 32 new beds would open in 2024. This compares with a previous unspecified timeline for fitting up the fifth floor specifically. The tower’s overall construction remains on track for completion in 2023, according to the hospital. With the proposed modifications, the building would have seven floors plus a basement, with patient units totaling 96 beds in private rooms. This compares with a previous count of 64 private patient rooms.

• Expansion of the bed license to 700, from 637.

• Construction of a new sterile processing department on the building’s sixth floor. At 20,000-square-feet, it would be recessed from the building edge, with a smaller footprint than the floors below. The sterile processing facilities would be above the new operating procedure rooms and adjacent to existing operating rooms. Both floors six and seven are smaller than the lower floors; seven will consist of some staff rooms and the physical pedestrian linkage to the existing Bramhall campus.

Need for more beds

“The need for getting additional beds online sooner is extremely apparent,” said Jeff Sanders, president of Maine Medical Center. “MMC consistently sees record inpatient census levels, and the medical severity of the cases has increased, as has the average length of stay.

Increases in patient volume, length of stay and level of medical needs have exceeded the hospital’s initial projections. 

“The pandemic has added to that challenge significantly,” he said.

Sterile processing

The sterile processing department sanitizes instruments for surgeries and other procedures. The decision to replace the existing department was made after further study of current and future needs. 

With the proposed modification plan, Maine Med would almost double the size of its sterile processing facilities and be prepared to meet growing demand for procedures. The placement of the sterile processing facilities directly above the new Malone Family Tower procedure rooms will save time and space, the hospital believes.

“Addressing these needs now, while the Malone Family Tower is still in early construction stages, is critical,” said Sanders. “The construction teams and necessary equipment are all perfectly staged to take on this modest expansion quickly and efficiently.”

Added cost

The modifications are expected to add approximately $52 million to the overall cost of the master facilities plan, bringing total investment to $588.4 million. Maine Med estimates the additional work would add approximately six months to the construction schedule, mainly consisting of interior work. 

The Malone Family Tower is expected to open in 2023 and the new sterile processing department in 2024, pending regulatory approvals. Work on the tower project began in January 2020, with the demolition of an employee garage on the site.

The new tower will also allow the medical center to reorganize cardiovascular services within the campus, which means better access for patients and care teams and less time traveling through the hospital corridors, according to MMC. There will be 19 procedure rooms.

The investments are supported in part by community philanthropy through the NEXT 150 | The Campaign for Maine Medical Center, which is nearing its goal of raising $150 million.  

For updates on the project, click here.

Maine Medical Center is the state's largest hospital and the flagship of the state’s largest health care system, MaineHealth. The medical center employs more than 9,600 people.

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