AUGUSTA – Three years after the death of its namesake philanthropist, the Harold Alfond Foundation has made a $35 million commitment to help build a $322 million consolidated regional hospital in north Augusta.

The funds will help build a new MaineGeneral Medical Center, replacing facilities where Harold Alfond went for medical care over his lifetime and fought a nearly two-decade battle against cancer.

“In the final years of his life, Harold Alfond could have gone anywhere in the world to be treated he chose MaineGeneral,” said Gregory W. Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation. “When this beautiful new state-of-the-art hospital opens its doors, the finest health care workers will provide the finest care, at the finest hospital. Somewhere, Harold Alfond will be beaming.”

The donation — announced at the future site of the hospital, next to the cancer treatment center which bears the late Alfond’s name — potentially comes in two parts.

The first is contingent on the proposed new hospital winning state approval, and on a new interchange being built to provide access to the site directly from Interstate 95. If those conditions are met, Powell said, the foundation would grant the project $25 million.

In addition, the foundation will match, dollar for dollar, the donations of others in the community up to $10 million. The foundation has net assets worth $147 million, according to its 2008 federal tax return.

Scott Bullock, MaineGeneral Health president and chief executive officer, said hospital officials expect the state’s decision on the Certificate of Need application, required to build the new facility, by July 1.

If approved, the hospital could open by January 2015.

Catherine Cobb, director of the state Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services, said Friday the Certificate of Need review is under way.

At Friday’s announcement of the donation — attended by about 100 people, Gov. John Baldacci endorsed the project.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also weighed in.

“Harold Alfond will always be remembered for his generosity, his goodwill and his vision,” Collins said in a statement.

For now, simply getting to the future hospital site remains a challenge for many motorists, who can see the site from Interstate 95 but have no exit providing direct access.

Bullock said a new interchange to provide direct access to the hospital would cost about $13 million.

Baldacci vowed Friday, “The road will be built.”

The move would close MaineGeneral’s hospital in Augusta and consolidate all inpatient services offered in Augusta and Waterville at the new hospital.

The Thayer Campus of MaineGeneral in Waterville would remain open as an outpatient facility.


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