Quarry Hill residents voice concerns

Pen Bay unveils proposed site for new regional nursing home

By Stephen Betts | Feb 22, 2020
Source: Sandy River Company This graphic is an example of a long term and skilled nursing center under consideration by Pen Bay Medical Center off Old County Road in Rockland.

Rockland — The proposed regional long-term care and nursing center that could replace the Knox Center and one Quarry Hill facility is being considered for an expansive parcel off Old County Road in Rockland with a view of Penobscot Bay.

Mark Fourre, president of Coastal Healthcare Alliance – the parent corporation of PBMC, Quarry Hill and Waldo County General Hospital – said the discussion is still in the early stages and no permits have been sought for the project.

Fourre and other officials have been meeting with employees and residents and their families of the the 84-bed Knox Center in Rockland and the 39-bed Gardens center at Quarry Hill in Camden that provides the long-term and skilled nursing services. The plans were detailed to the groups in a series of meetings.

The site being eyed for new regional nursing center is 29 acres on the east side of Old County Road in Rockland near the Rockport line. The land is largely undeveloped with one home located on it. The property is on Cranberry Isles Drive next to the water tower.

"There are three more meetings planned with residents," Fourre said.

The earliest the project would be built is 2022.

The new facility is expected to have 94 beds, but that may change, the healthcare president said.

The Coastal Healthcare president said that there were concerns voiced by a small group of Quarry Hill residents about the impact on the continuum of care for those who live in the Quarry Hill development. He said, however, many residents understand that Pen Bay must make the move for the facilities to be financially sustainable.

Some of the residents organized an effort to get turnout to the meetings, noting that people who bought cottages at Quarry Hill or who are residents of the Anderson Inn were "not only promised that there would be skilled nursing here for us when needed, but that we would have priority gaining admittance to it," according to an email they circulated.

"The Knox Center building is outdated and inefficient, while the Quarry Hill long-term center is too small to operate cost effectively," Fourre said.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

Pen Bay has suffered $4.4 million in losses during the past five years because Quarry Hill's long term and care facility is too small to operate cost effectively.

The losses at the Knox Center during that period was $5.3 million.

"Maintaining the status quo is not an option," Pen Bay stated in its presentation to the residents.

There is not sufficient room at Quarry Hill for the new facility, the hospital stated.

PBMC partnered with Sandy River Company of Portland to develop the project. Sandy River has built a similar facility for MaineHealth in Sanford and is working on another one for MaineHealth in Portland.

MaineHealth is the parent corporation of Coastal Healthcare Alliance.

Fourre pointed out that Quarry Hill is not being sold and will remain part of PBMC and MaineHealth.

Under the proposal, transportation would be provided to Quarry Hill residents to the new nursing center who may have family members in the new facility.

Pen Bay and MaineHealth will continue to provide oversight for the clinical care and quality of care at the new facility.

North Country Associates of Lewiston will operate the new center in partnership with Sandy River.

"The new location is nicely sited between the Knox Center and Quarry Hill," Fourre said. The property is about 1.5 miles from the hospital.

"Most employees are supportive of the proposal," he said, "seeing the benefits of a new facility."

Fourre confirmed that current employees would continue to have jobs and residents will still have a place at the new facility.

Fourre said the project will need approvals from multiple agencies including the city of Rockland, certificate of need approval from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and environmental permits from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The property is owned by Rockland Land LLC which consists of Sandy River officials Michael Tyler of Camden; David Friedman of Boulder, Colo.; and Daniel Maguire of Falmouth. Tyler worked for PBMC in the financial department in the 1980s.

Since the property is owned by a for-profit company, the project will be subject to property taxes.

The corporation bought the land in May 2007 with the intent to construct homes. Sandy River had received approval from the Rockland Planning Board in 2006 to develop 86 house lots with homes targeted for people 55 years old and older.

The Great Recession struck soon after that and the plans were shelved.

The property previously was owned by the Conrad family. The land extends east to abut the Pen Bay Acres neighborhood.

"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," Coastal Healthcare stated last month.

Bobby Purkey, a resident of Quarry Hill's residences, said in a Feb. 9 email to Fourre that providing a written promise and guarantee of transportation (on a very frequent and on demand basis) to family members remaining at Quarry Hill with a spouse in long-term care helps alleviate some, but not all of the concerns.

"The feeling seems to be that if the move to a proposed new facility for a LTC resident is optional that is acceptable, but to be forced to move from what is your home near the end of your life, or to be physically separated by more distance from a spouse, seems to most of us to be very cruel," Purkey said in the email.

He questioned why the skilled nursing (rehabilitation) center could not remain at Quarry Hill and expand with the departure of the long-term care space.

"The residents here, both cottages and apartments, moved here for and have paid for, a high quality style of life, with the facilities needed as we age located in one location. I feel that our homes and lives will be changed in a negative way if the proposed changes by Maine Health as presented by the President of the Coastal Healthcare Alliance becomes a reality," the Quarry Hill resident stated.

He also questioned why losses at the Knox Center should impact Quarry Hill residents.

There are 45 cottages and 37 independent living apartments in the Quarry Hill complex in addition to the long-term and skilled nursing center

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 (9)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | Feb 28, 2020 14:52

Oh Yeah!!!   I so look forward to the next coming property tax bill, anyone think that it will go up?   Rockland has turned into a non-profit city which is truly killing us tax payers in this city.  Maine Health is one of the biggest non-profit business here.  Do you all know how much land their businesses sit on?  Did you also know that on Old County Road, there is an Old MBNA building that Maine Health owns and it is filled with cubicles where women/men sit and chat and work.  If Maine Health has Employees, how can it be a non profit?  This really makes me so upset!!!!!!!!  UUUURRRRGH!!!!!

Posted by: Harry Fitzgerald | Feb 25, 2020 03:55

How is building a new facility at several million dollars with only 90 beds going to better serve this area when the current facilities offer 123 beds and there is still a shortage of beds? A nice, shiny new facility with a view  of the bay sounds great and will attract those who can afford to pay, but what about those who can't afford it? If it is the only place in the area, there will be people who will not get care, or will have to go far from their homes to find affordable care. The residents at Quarry Hill have a very legitimate concern, and the residents at Knox Center may find they can't get into the new place. Private pay will definitely take a priority over Maine Care. Mr Merriam, I believe you already have to deplete your assets, and once that is accomplished and you go on Medicaid, if there are any assets left over, the state can take them to pay for your care after you are gone. And Doug, hope if this all happens and Rockland gets the Knox Center, it gets used for affordable housing and not rebuilt into either more unnecessary office space or more high end housing. The best part of this plan is that it will be taxable.

Nancy Fitzgerald

Posted by: Ananur Forma | Feb 23, 2020 06:26

Where is this in relation to Jimena Lasansky's Dance School? wondering if this would cause a problem with drainage for housing below...Pen Bay Acres already has erosion and drainage issues.

Posted by: Doug Curtis Jr. | Feb 22, 2020 20:05

Rolls not Rules


Posted by: Doug Curtis Jr. | Feb 22, 2020 20:03

Wow. This is a catch 22. I think this is forward looking and we need to take care of elderly.  However I hope they don't need the entire 29 acres and the Knox LTC facility returns to the tax rules. Rockland is land poor and we can't afford to take this entire property off the tax rules. I hope Maine Health understands this I hope they care about us. .

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Feb 22, 2020 16:36

Only those who can afford $10,000/month - the minimum cost of nursing home care - or whose lack of assets qualify them for Medicaid will benefit. Those with some assets will have to spend them for care until they qualify for Medicaid and their heirs will not receive inheritances. (Many people are under the misapprehension that Medicare covers nursing home care.)

The differences in European nursing home care and America's are eye-opening to say the least.


Posted by: Brian Harden | Feb 22, 2020 13:46

At first reading, this plan makes a lot of sense. Remember we must serve people who live south on the peninsulas as far as Port Clyde and Friendship as well as those north in Rockport and Camden. Placing this many beds in Rockland but close to PBMC is good thinking. I look forward to learning more and helping this project become a reality.

Posted by: Deb Dodge | Feb 22, 2020 10:44

While serious consideration has been given to the financial impact of the losses at the current facilities, and how best to remove that drain from Pen-Bay (Maine Health), there are many residents that feel that not enough consideration has been given to the impact on current residents in independent apartments, cottages and assisted living. Imagine being a couple with one in independent living and the other needing long-term care, or even short term skilled nursing.  Now it is only a few minutes walk to be with your loved one.  The new facility is 20 minutes away- the nurse on duty calls you at 9 pm or later to say your spouse is having a medical crisis...oh yes, there will be a driver available...

Most people understand the financial issues, and it is not just a local problem, but a national issue.  However, those of us who moved to QH moved here believing the literature selling  the "peace of mind" and "unique service continuum" - all at Quarry Hill. It is unsettling to put it mildly, the "peace of mind" and security - gone.

Posted by: Debra Damon | Feb 22, 2020 06:32

Sounds like a good plan if everyone's needs are really thought about. It would be nice if they could included space for our veterans who need a place to stay also, whether it's  another building on the same lot.

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