January 14

Augusta to consider temporary free housing for seriously ill

City Council will consider a zoning change on Thursday to allow a Ronald McDonald-type house near the new MaineGeneral Medical Center and Alfond Center for Cancer Care.

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

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click image to enlarge

NEW PROPOSAL: A home at 410 Old Belgrade Road is shown in a photo taken Tuesday in Augusta. City councilors may make a zoning change to accommodate an anticipated proposal to create a hospitality house where families of patients, or patients themselves, could stay while getting treatment at the new MaineGeneral Medical Center or adjacent Alfond Center for Cancer Care.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Boarding house defined

Proposed definition of medical boarding house: “A rooming house exclusively used by patients and their families visiting Augusta to access services at the Alfond Center for Health and the Alfond Center for Cancer Care.”

Councilor Patrick Paradis, Ward 3, said establishing a medical boarding home where patients and families who can’t afford a hotel could stay for free is “fantastic and would fill a great need, to have something so close to the new hospital where patients and families could go back and forth to the hospital,” but was concerned the change would unwanted development in the medical district, which officials created a few years ago to encourage development of medical-related offices and other related businesses around the hospital.

“I share the concerns of other members of this council. I’d want to go slow,” Paradis said.

O’Connell, in her letter to the city, said guests at the Farmhouse of Hope would need a referral from a doctor or other medical professional. Guests could stay for a day or two, or longer, depending on their need, length of treatment, and availability of rooms at the now four-bedroom home. Guests would be limited to people at least 18 years old who live at least 30 miles from Augusta, with exceptions granted in some cases.

Once registered, those staying there could come and go as they please. She said services would be provided “by a dedicated, enthusiastic, and passionate group of volunteers, along with the medical director and executive director.”

A medical director would be on call 24 hours a day to work with MaineGeneral staff and help answer questions from guests about their medical needs. It would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, according to O’Connell.

Also Thursday, councilors are scheduled to:

• Meet in two closed-door sessions, one to discuss a personnel matter, the other to discuss real estate negotiations;

• Recognize newly retired fire department Battalion Chief Dan Guimond;

• Hear a presentation from Shawn Moody of Moody’s Auto Collision Center;

• Consider accepting two Maine Bureau of Highway Safety Grants, each for $10,000, for speed and impaired driving enforcement and;

• Consider allowing the city to act as the fiscal agent to receive $24,000 in grant funds on behalf of the Worromontogus Lake Association to hire an engineer to study and design a fishway at Togus Pond to help reestablish alewife runs in the pond.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647 kedwards@centralmaine.com

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