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July 11, 2022

Sweetser to close Bangor, Belfast group homes, affecting 45 residents

Two weeks after naming a new CEO, Sweetser, Maine’s largest nonprofit mental health care provider, said it will close its group homes in Bangor and Belfast by the end of the year, affecting 45 residents.

The 29 homes, which provide community-set housing for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, lose millions of dollars a year, the nonprofit said.

“This program is no longer financially sustainable given the current reimbursement rates and staffing difficulties,” said Sweetser’s new president and CEO, Jayne Van Bramer. “This shift will enable us to refocus our efforts on our core mental and behavioral health programs Sweetser is known for in every corner of our state, providing support to nearly 20,000 children and adults each year.”

Courtesy / Sweetser
Jayne Van Bramer

In 2017, the state of Maine asked Sweetser to temporarily take on clients during a previous provider’s bankruptcy. Since then, Sweetser purchased the program and has delivered care for the past four years.

“The developmental services team has worked tirelessly to build a strong program and provide the very best care possible,” said Melissa Camire, Sweetser’s senior director of developmental services. “We’ve been proud to act as a provider of these critical services and are doing everything we can to support our impacted staff and clients during this transition.”

Sweetser will be collaborating with various outside agencies and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to ensure continuation of care for clients who are displaced. Sweetser also is working with the Department of Labor to connect around 140 staff members to internal job openings and new opportunities.

Sweetser said it will continue serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, children’s residential and crisis services. 

Saco-based Sweetser was founded in 1828 by Cornelius Sweetser and for years ran orphanages. Today, Sweetser operates a network of dozens of sites across Maine, serving 20,000 clients annually in areas including mental and behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, recovery and education.

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