Sheila Parker gives a tour of Maine Medical Center’s new Malone Family Tower, which will advance cardiac and cardiovascular clinical care. It features 96 private patient rooms, 19 new operation and procedure rooms, and a significantly expanded sterile processing department facility. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Maine Medical Center is set to complete the final piece of its long-running expansion project next month with the opening of Malone Family Tower, the hospital’s new $378 million cardiac care facility.

The tower, which is scheduled to open June 9, is the final piece of the eight-year, $588 million expansion and modernization campaign. Maine Med expects the new tower to support between 225 to 300 additional jobs at the hospital by 2026.

With eight floors and 300,000 square feet of space next to Congress Street, the tower contains 96 private inpatient rooms and 19 procedure rooms. It will consolidate much of the hospital’s cardiac and vascular services – currently spread throughout the hospital – into one building. A new intensive care unit will add 32 rooms, bringing the hospital’s ICU beds to just over 100.

The total number of beds won’t change from the current 700 but the hospital will increase its capacity by increasing the number of single rooms. The hospital’s actual capacity is often substantially lower than 700 patients, Maine Med officials have said because many patients are too sick to stay in a double room. Adding more private rooms will make it possible to more fully utilize beds in the double rooms.

Rooms in the new tower are larger – about 340 to 370 square feet, compared to the 190-square-foot rooms in one of the hospital’s older towers. All, except those for patients requiring the most critical care, have showers. The rooms are flooded with natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

New procedure and operating rooms are also more spacious and outfitted with latest technology, Britt Crewse, MaineHealth Southern Region president, said before a tour of the new site Thursday. The new facility “puts the patient at the center of everything we do,” Crewse said.

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The tower includes a 20,000-square-foot sterile processing department that will serve all of the operating and procedure rooms at Maine Medical Center.

Once operating, the tower will allow people to stay in the state for any heart care they need, rather than traveling to Boston, Crewse said. “This is going to change lives for anyone who comes to MaineHealth and Maine Medical Center,” he said.

Construction continued Thursday on Maine Medical Center’s new Malone Family Tower. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

While construction wraps up, about 1,800 hospital staff will train on the new equipment and get used to the sprawling floor plan. Each floor is roughly the size of a football field, said Sheila Parker, vice president of patient services.

They’ve already run through multiple “dress rehearsals” to make sure the transition is seamless. When the doors open on June 9, 85 patients will be moved, one by one every three or four minutes, to the new cardiac facility.

Dr. Joel Botler, chief medical officer for MaineHealth’s southern region, said the hospital cannot currently serve all patients who require cardiovascular care.

Maine Medical Center already performs the most cardiac and cardiovascular procedures in Maine, including more than 1,200 open-heart surgeries, 5,000 catheter-based procedures and 600 ablations each year.

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Already, cardiac patients account for roughly 20% of the hospital’s 600 or so patients at a given time.

The need for more space was exacerbated by the pandemic, the hospital has said. Hospital staff are caring for more patients than ever, and the patients tend to be sicker and require longer stays. On most days, dozens of patients in the emergency department are waiting for a hospital bed to become available.

The new tower will allow the hospital to meet both current and future demand, Botler said. At its core, he said, the expansion project is about increasing access.

Sheila Parker shows a private patient room in Maine Medical Center’s newly completed Malone Family Tower. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“This is the kind of facility that people are going to look at at a national level,” he said Thursday.

IT WILL CHANGE HEALTH CARE IN MAINE

Crewse agreed that the Malone Family Tower – with its focus on improving the patient experience and investing in technology – will change health care for the state. “And that’s not hyperbole,” he said.

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Maine Med’s expansion and modernization project was first announced in September 2016 and construction began in 2018.

The tower is named for John and Leslie Malone of Colorado, who in 2021 donated $25 million to the expansion. It was the largest single philanthropic gift in the hospital’s 150-year history. John Malone is a cable television executive and the largest private landowner in the United States. His holdings include about 1 million acres of forestland in Maine.

The expansion project also added 64 private rooms for cancer patients and a new heliport atop the hospital’s Coulombe Family Tower, 225 more parking spaces for patients and visitors, and a new employee parking garage. Maine Medical Partners, the outpatient arm of Maine Med, also opened a 108,000-square-foot medical office building on its Scarborough campus.

Also, the fundraising campaign paid for $64 million in research, clinical programs and training, which includes a partnership with Tufts University and an innovation program that helps pay for employees to invent ways to improve patient care.

Botler has been excited about the overall project for years, “but actually walking the halls now, seeing the rooms, seeing how it’s going to impact care, it’s pretty profound,” he said.

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