January 21, 2013

Augusta's new hospital named 'Alfond Center for Health'

Thayer unit in Waterville renamed 'Thayer Center for Health'

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Joe Phelan The top photo shows the front entrance of the new MaineGeneral regional hospital on 5/22/12 in north Augusta. and the bottom one shows the same side of the new MaineGeneral regional hospital on 12/4/12 in north Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

AUGUSTA — MaineGeneral Medical Center has dubbed its new regional hospital the Alfond Center for Health.

The brown-and-blue glass-faced building is under construction in north Augusta beside the Alfond Center for Cancer Care, an outpatient facility sharing the same campus between Old Belgrade Road and Interstate 95.

The new hospital’s name was decided recently by the board of MaineGeneral Health, the hospital’s parent company, and appeared on the organization’s Facebook page on Monday.

“We thought we would recognize the generosity of the Alfonds,” said Chuck Hays, MaineGeneral Health CEO. “As health systems convert to look for ways to keep people healthy rather than only intervene in a crisis, we thought the name would move us to the future and represent what we’re about.” 

The Alfond foundation has supported endeavors in education, health care and youth development, and a number of buildings — particularly sports centers — in central Maine bear the Alfond name. It was founded in 1950 by local philanthropist Harold Alfond.

The Alfond foundation provided $35 million — $10 million of that in the form of a matching grant — to support the new $312 million, 192-bed hospital that will replace the East Chestnut Street hospital in Augusta. The project also will consolidate the inpatient functions of MaineGeneral’s Thayer Campus in Waterville.

The Thayer hospital also is getting a new name: the Thayer Center for Health. That site is scheduled for $10 million worth of improvements, scheduled to get under way a year from now, as it converts into an out-patient-only hospital with a 24-hour emergency department.

The foundation previously contributed $7 million to the Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta.

Hays said the Alfond Center for Health in Augusta has a new scheduled opening date of Nov. 9, seven months earlier than originally forecast and a month earlier than the most recent estimate. The project also is running a couple million dollars ahead of budget, he said. 

“We’re very happy about where we are,” he said. “I think the project will be done before that, but our transition plan we can’t speed up.”

The next big project in the area of the new hospital includes road improvements around I-95’s exit 113 that will link Route 3 to Route 27. That will allow faster access to the hospital site from the interstate as well as relieve congestion at busy exit 112, which serves high-traffic areas such as the Marketplace at Augusta, the University of Maine at Augusta and the Augusta Civic Center.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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