Maine Med reaches $150 million goal for Portland hospital expansion

·3 min read

Jun. 23—In just over a year, Maine Medical Center has reached its goal of raising $150 million to help fund the construction of a $534 million expansion.

The hospital announced Thursday that the fundraising campaign has reached its initial goal, capping off the effort with a $2 million donation from Portland couple Eric and Peggy Cianchette.

However, the hospital is extending its goal by $20 million for "further investments made necessary by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to a statement. Almost half of that, about $9 million, already has been secured.

"Throughout the pandemic, though, MMC's workforce and facilities needs became even more acute," the hospital said in a news release. "Not only is MMC now caring for more patients than ever before, but those patients tend to be sicker and require longer hospital stays. On most days, dozens of patients in MMC's Emergency Department are waiting for a hospital bed to become available."

The campaign kicked off in June 2021 with the largest single philanthropic gift in the hospital's 150-year history, a $25 million donation from John and Leslie Malone of Colorado.

The Cianchettes' donation will help fund a new cardiovascular intensive care unit, to be named the Eric and Peggy Cianchette Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Their daughter is a cardiovascular nurse at Maine Med.

"We are excited to see the extraordinary facility that Maine Medical Center is building and know it will benefit countless cardiac patients once complete," Eric and Peggy Cianchette said in a statement. "Our family and friends have received outstanding care from Maine Medical Center, and we are honored to be making an investment in the future of the medical center for all Maine people."

TOWERING ACHIEVEMENT

The cardiovascular unit will be housed within the new Malone Family Tower, named after John and Leslie Malone.

The six-story, 285,000-square-foot tower, under construction on Congress Street, will have 96 private inpatient rooms (increased from the original 64) and 19 procedure rooms. It will consolidate much of the hospital's cardiac and vascular services — currently spread throughout the hospital — into one building. Dr. Joel Botler, chief medical officer for Maine Med, has said modern surgery requires more space in operating rooms, and that the operating rooms will be in the much larger tower.

The hospital also is adding a new sterile processing department at the top of the tower.

Maine Med's success at hitting its capital campaign goal comes in a year in which it has had to contend with multiple crises, including high rates of hospitalizations of coronavirus patients, staffing issues caused by the labor shortage, demonstrations by nurses protesting working conditions, and a public dispute with the Anthem insurance network over what the hospital says are tens of millions of dollars in unpaid claims.

Jeff Sanders, Maine Med's president, said in a statement that the pandemic has only accelerated the need for private rooms and a skilled workforce. Grouping cardiac patients together will allow for better care and will allow the hospital to improve the private rooms in the existing facility as well, he said in an interview Thursday.

Sanders said he was both excited and pleased with how quickly the organization was able to raise the money, and he thanked the community for its generosity.

Maine Med's $534 million expansion and modernization project was first announced in September 2016.

So far, the project has added 64 private patient rooms 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.

Initially scheduled for completion this year, the Malone Family Tower project has been extended to 2024. The facility will add 355 jobs to Maine Med by 2026, according to a hospital spokesperson.