An artist's depiction shows the new, 90-bed nursing home and rehabilitation center planned to be built on the grounds of the Southern Maine Health Care Campus in Sanford. SUBMITTED PHOTO

An artist’s depiction shows the new, 90-bed nursing home and rehabilitation center planned to be built on the grounds of the Southern Maine Health Care Campus in Sanford. SUBMITTED PHOTO

SANFORD — A new, 90-bed, $21 million skilled nursing care and rehabilitation center is planned on the grounds of the Sanford campus of Southern Maine Health Care.

The new facility, to be built and owned by the Sandy River Company, will be operated by Genesis Healthcare, Inc, said SMHC Senior Vice President and Chief Planning Officer Sue Hadiaris. It will replace the 50-year-old, 74-bed Newton Center nursing home.

“The new facility will offer mostly private rooms and special services with a personal touch, making it Maine’s premier skilled nursing center,” said Hadiaris.

“The new rehabilitation and skilled nursing care center will be a tremendous asset to the Sanford community,” said Sanford Mayor Tom Cote. “As our city continues to change and grow, it’s important that our medical care and support services evolve at the same time. This facility will offer our residents the same high-quality care, but in a vastly superior facility.”

“SMHC’s eldercare services have a long-standing reputation for high quality, compassionate care. However, the facilities are outdated and need to be replaced. At the time of our merger, we set a goal to bring a state-of-the-art senior care facility to Sanford,” said SMHC President Edward J McGeachey. “We have been continuously working on the best way to make that happen for more than three years.” 

SMHC also operates a 24-bed memory care center called The Pavilion and a 14-bed residential care facility called Hillcrest Gardens. SMHC Vice President of Eldercare Services Kathy Fernberg said residents will be evaluated and some may transition to the new nursing care facility. SMHC will provide support to patients, residents and families of those who will transition to other facilities.

The new facility will be build on land owned by SMHC between the current Newton Center building and a hospital-owned wellness center on July Street. After all patients and residents have moved into to their new homes, Newton Center, The Pavilion and Hillcrest Gardens will be removed and the site will be landscaped. 

“Many people, particularly as we age, need rehabilitation services and skilled nursing care,” McGeachey said. “This new center increases the availability of these services in the Sanford area and gives people what they want today —  the best of care provided by national experts in a wonderfully-designed facility that offers privacy and special amenities. This new center is the latest addition to the full spectrum of healthcare services that SMHC provides in Sanford.  It will enhance many lives in coming years.”

McGeachey said the new center, because of its size and services, will increase employment opportunities in Sanford.

“All SMHC eldercare staff will have the opportunity for a position in the new center and still there will be more positions to fill,” he said. 

Fernberg said about 148 people work at the three facilities. She said SMHC will provide education for workers currently employed as certified medication residential medication aides who wish to become certified nursing aides.

Staff, patients and their families were informed of the new project on Wednesday.

The 90-bed facility will sport 58 private rooms, with private baths. Those currently living in the Newton Center will be offered first preferences for rooms.

Sandy River Company Managing Partner  Daniel McGuire said the company owns 11 nursing homes in Maine, all operated by Genesis Healthcare, Inc.  Among their newest facilities is Avita, a memory care center in Wells that opened in December.

McGuire said SMHC has been exploring options for the Sanford eldercare facilities for a long time. 

“The hospital wanted to keep the services there now, and made a strong commitment to do so,” he said. 

The project will be required to go through the Certificate of Need process at the state level and local permitting. McGuire estimated it will take 1 1/2 years, altogether. He said the company is hoping for an April ground-breaking and a late summer, 2019 opening.

Genesis Healthcare, Inc. is a holding company with subsidiaries that, on a combined basis, comprise one of the nation’s largest post-acute care providers, with approximately 450 skilled nursing centers and senior living communities in 29 states nationwide, according to their website. In York County, they operate RiverRidge in Kennebunk. 

Cote said the project shows that SMHC is  continuing  to live up to its commitment to bring new investments to Sanford.

“This state-of-the-art facility is a great step in the right direction,” he said. “I am grateful for their commitment to our community and their focus on expanding services on the Sanford campus. The strong partnership and collaborative engagement we have with SMHC will certainly be extended to the Sandy River Company and the facility operator Genesis HealthCare. We look forward to partnering with them to ensure the project moves ahead efficiently.”

 — Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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