AUGUSTA — The Health and Human Services Committee on Friday unanimously endorsed legislation to make a one-time stopgap payment to a financially crippled Jackman health facility.

The need for an influx of funding to the Jackman Community Health Center became urgent in June 2017 when MaineGeneral Health announced it no longer could afford to operate at the health center and pulled its overnight and weekend emergency services from the rural tourist town. MaineGeneral, which operated a nursing home at the center, and Penobscot Community Health Care, of which the Jackman facility is a part, had been pooling their resources to keep it open at night.

Penobscot has implemented an on-call system for nights and weekends so that a nurse, physician’s assistant and doctor could be available at the center if a patient were in need of immediate care. But without MaineGeneral’s funding, the operation of the on-call service is not sustainable and roughly 800 Jackman residents, as well as residents from the surrounding Moose River region, eventually would have to travel either 75 miles to Skowhegan or 50 miles to Greenville to receive emergency care.

The $150,000 that would go to the center if the Legislature passes the bill would be tied directly to the center’s budget and would provide on-call services to the region for the rest of the fiscal year.

Rep. Chad Grignon, R-Athens, a sponsor of the bill, has said Jackman’s status as a destination for outdoor recreation has added urgency to the funding situation. Thousands of tourists go to the area, which is just a few miles from the Canadian border, to snowmobile, hunt, fish and ride all-terrain vehicles. In recent months, several snowmobile and ATV accidents have been reported in the region.

In addition, Grignon said, a large number of people in the area work in the forestry industry, which is a dangerous job.

At Friday’s work session, Lori Dwyer, the president of PCHC, and Jackman Selectman Alan Duplessis went before the committee to offer testimony on the center’s need for the funding.

Dwyer said that although the original request was for almost $500,000, that figure has since been adjusted, and about $100,000 was raised from the community, so a one-time allocation of $150,000 would cover the rest of the financial shortfall.

Emily Higginbotham can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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