While the changes in store for Blue Hill Memorial Hospital may be considered substantial on many levels, the actual aesthetic disruption to the downtown campus will be minimal, said hospital CEO Greg Roraff on Friday, April 12.
The hospital’s board of trustees recently approved a three-year strategic plan and a conceptual master facility plan all aimed at reconfiguring and adding space to the campus, which spans from Water Street to Parker Point Road. While the schematics of the concept facility plan are not being released to the public because they are not yet final, Roraff led The Weekly Packet through the documents.
“What we are doing today is critical to Blue Hill Memorial Hospital’s future and critical for the future of the Blue Hill community,” Roraff said of the hospital’s decision to expand, and he hopes that the community will be behind it.
The plan calls for the construction of a two-story addition that would more than double the existing hospital building. The new expanded building would house all medical services, including primary care and laboratory facilities. The front door would be reoriented, and parking expanded on the Parker Point Road side. There are no plans to substantially widen either entrance.
The Sussman Medical Office Building will become the home for hospital administrators, financial and other non-medical staff and the oldest hospital building on Water Street (rebuilt after a fire in 1929) will be “spruced up,” said Roraff, and eventually rented to organizations with compatible missions. He said that while the building was considered for renovation as part of the expansion project at a cost of roughly $3.5 million, the trustees thought that money could be better spent on patient care or related services.
The idea of big changes to the hospital campus, as well as recent purchases of property on Parker Point Road worried some Blue Hill residents, but after gaining 80 feet of additional space from the backyards of 18 and 24 Parker Point Road, the hospital has the space it needs for expansion.
The property at 24 Parker Point Road, the former Leighton Gallery, is back on the market and according to Roraff is expected to sell in the very near future. While he was unable to name the buyer, “because it is still in negotiation,” he said it is expected to remain primarily commercial space.
The house at 18 Parker Point Road, The so-called Sweet House, will remain residential rental property.
In addition, the property across Water Street from the hospital (formerly Hancock County HomeCare & Hospice) will become the home to Healthy Peninsula, as well as rented space to an existing daycare facility, which needs to move from its rented space elsewhere in Blue Hill.
Roraff said that the expansion is not expected to be completed until 2016 or 2017. He said the hospital will undertake a feasibility study this summer and possibly start a capital campaign in the fall specifically to help fund the project.
The total project cost is expected to run between $18 and $20 million, said Roraff. It currently has an estimated $6 million in hand and whatever it can not raise in its capital campaign, it likely will borrow.
“The community has demonstrated an unbelievable amount of generosity for this hospital to date and I am hopeful they will again see the need—and that we will demonstrate the need—and they will step up to support the project for themselves and for their children’s children,” said Roraff.