Pen Bay looking for new nursing home to serve Midcoast

By Stephen Betts | Feb 18, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Knox Center in Rockland.

One option that is under consideration for long-term care services in Knox County is a new centrally-located nursing facility, the president of Coastal Healthcare Alliance said Feb. 17.

The new facility would replace the 84-bed Knox Center in Rockland and Quarry Hill's 39-bed skilled and long-term nursing care facility in Camden.

Dr. Mark Fourre, president of Coastal Healthcare Alliance, said discussions are in a very early stage. He said discussions have been with both employees, residents and their families of the Knox Center and Quarry Hill.

The Knox Center building is outdated and inefficient, while the Quarry Hill long-term and skilled center is too small to operate cost effectively, he said. A new facility would be more efficient and offer single rooms rather than shared rooms.

The Coastal Healthcare Alliance Board announced last month that it voted to enter into a study period to determine the most efficient and patient centered plan forward for CHA affiliated long-term care and nursing facilities in Knox County.

Coastal Health Care Alliance is the parent board that oversees health care operations in the region, including Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast, the Knox Center in Rockland and Quarry Hill in Camden.

Coastal Healthcare is working with Sandy River, Maine-based senior care development firm to look at options.

"Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital are committed to senior services in the region, and the planning process initiated by the regional board overseeing them is aimed at addressing the facilities and operational challenges inherent in the long-term care field," the statement continued from Coastal Healthcare stated last month.

Current employees would continue to have jobs and residents will still have a place at the new facility if that occurs, he said.

The early planning process is expected to take several months.

The study comes as the Knox Center continues to suffer an operating loss of about $1 million or more annually.

The concerns about the Knox Center have been ongoing for years.

In 2016, the former administration of Coastal Healthcare issued an internal memo that recommended hiring "a consultant to perform a study of the healthcare needs of seniors in the Knox County area to determine the feasibility of providing long-term care services in the future. The Knox Center for Long-Term Care incurred an operating loss of $1.2 million in FY 16."

The Knox Center has been operated by Pen Bay Medical Center since 1976, when the hospital was built in Rockport and the former Knox Hospital in Rockland was converted into a nursing home. The center has 84 beds.

The Knox Center was eyed for possible closure back in 1983, when it was also losing money. A community group formed and came up with proposals that led to the nursing home remaining open.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Robin Gabe | Feb 18, 2020 14:23

Kendall, the Maine Veterans Homes that you reference in your comment are not affiliated with the VA at all. They are quasi-official entities that are governed by a board of directors consisting of community members and Maine state officials. They do not contract with other nursing homes. The Togus VA, on the other hand, does short-term contracts with some nursing homes, but does not contract for permanent placements.

Posted by: Doug Curtis Jr. | Feb 18, 2020 13:37

None of us are getting any younger.  This is one of the problems when you consolidate with a larger organization.  You loose local control.  I  hope their solution is a good one.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 18, 2020 13:03

Costs of the top Directors would be one factor. The "Knox" was not a for profit service. But times change and expensive Directors and their staff prevail now. Just my opinion!

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Feb 18, 2020 11:03

If these nursing home facilities and Coastal Healthcare accepted the VA reimbursement rates that would help local vets and their families have close-to-home care and not cause family separations at VA nursing homes around the state located at long distances.

Posted by: Bruce Hodsdon | Feb 18, 2020 08:49

If the Knox Center closes it could be turned into a "full service" addiction/ recovery treatment  center.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Feb 18, 2020 08:08

If knox center is losing over a million per year than why add millions more in expenses  ?  Story did not say reason for loss

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