Pen Bay Medical Center presents hospice plansAlso receives approval for expansion of biomass plant
Rockport — Plans for a hospice center on the grounds of Pen Bay Medical Center were presented to the town's planning board March 13.
While still in the initial stages, the pre-application materials indicate the hospice will initially provide space for seven patients with the potential for expansion to 14.
"We are proposing a new facility," civil engineer Paul Monyok of WBRC Architects-Engineers said, adding it will be designed to look much like a New England farmhouse. "We are working through a design right now...it may change a little."
Senior Project Manager Dan Miller said a farmhouse design offers more warmth than an institutional design.
"Hospices are not usually found on a medical center site," he said. "It's not going to feel like it's part of the hospital campus."
Monyok said there is a master plan for the hospital property, which sits on a 63-acre parcel located on Route 1 in Rockport. The proposed location for the hospice facility was identified as a remote location and all roads to the facility will be on hospital property.
Planning board Chairman Kerry Leichtman shared concerns that the construction driveway may not be used for an emergency exit, per Maine Department of Transportation officials.
"They're funneling everyone into one driveway," he said.
However, Monyok said the construction driveway will be gated and used for emergency access following paving after construction is complete. He noted the track of the road is somewhat complicated due to wetlands on the property as well as streams.
"At some point, the hospital would like to make its entrance a little easier to find," Monyok said.
The number of beds was chosen based on the number of patients a nurse can care for at one time, according to Miller. Monyok noted the hospital's closest neighbors are all commercial properties.
The number of parking spaces also was questioned. Leichtman said the proposed 20 spaces do not seem enough to accommodate staff members as well as visitors to the facility. Monyok said he estimated four or five spaces for staff and a potential average for number of visitors.
"You don't want to have a lot of pavement if you don't have to," he said, adding the layout of the parking area could be adjusted or staff could be directed to park elsewhere on the hospital campus.
Due to the nature of the hospice facility, the building will be surrounded by gardens, Miller said, providing space for families and patients to spend time outside. Benches and pavers already have been donated, he said.
A more in-depth presentation regarding the hospice will likely take place during a planning board meeting in April, which has not yet been scheduled.
Also during the March 13 meeting, a revision to the original application for a biomass facility on hospital grounds was unanimously approved. The revision allows for the footprint of the building to be moved following discovery of ledge in the original proposed location, Monyok said. The biomass facility was originally approved in April 2012, according to Monyok.
According to planning board meeting minutes from March 2012, the hospital at that time was burning No. 6 fuel, which WBRC representative Dick Rawlins said is "a very dirty fuel and also a harder fuel to get." He said the goal of the hospital is to swap heating sources to biomass wood chips.
"Biomass is cleaner and would significantly lower operating costs for the hospital," Rawlins said at the time, adding natural gas could be used as an interim fuel. "...The end game would be to use the biomass boiler as the primary fuel and convert the No. 6 fuel to No. 2."
The recently approved changes allow for relocating the building 18 feet to the north and 24 feet to the west, according to materials provided by WBRC. Due to that shift, an additional connector — adding slightly more than 620 square feet to the original 2,500 to 3,000 square footage — is needed.
Courier Publications Associate Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at email@example.com.