BANGOR – Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) says the former Verizon call center off Union Street in Bangor is on-track to open as its new, larger, Center for Pediatric Care. Frame Out tours were offered Tuesday for a first look at how the facility will be laid out once it opens its doors to patients later this year.
“The Pediatric center will be on the second floor and will amount to about twice the space we currently have,” said Lori Dwyer, president and CEO of Penobscot Community Health Care. “The additional space will allow for more exam rooms, group rooms and community space, better space for the delivery of team-based integrated care, nutrition education and other parenting classes, and the opportunity to work with many more children and provide more services.”
PCHC currently has about 10,000 patients making about 32,000 visits each year. In the new facility, an additional 2-4 mental health providers will be brought on board, more students will be exposed to PCHC’s unique integrated care model, and more children will be seen. PCHC officials expect to increase the number of patients by about 20%.
The second floor space will include 30 exam rooms, up from 22 exam rooms at the current center. The first floor of the new space will include complimentary services, including speech therapy and audiology services, as well as office space and teaching space for PCHC’s pharmacy staff and pharmacy residency program.
“This community needs more high quality care for kids. We are finding that our kids are more anxious, more depressed, more sedentary, and less interactive than they were just a decade ago,” said Dwyer. “We see children in despair, hungry, and without their basic needs being met every day. The rate of food insecurity, obesity, depression and anxiety are growing at alarming rates, and we have to do something about it.”
The recently released Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) report identifies gaps in affordable mental health care for kids and prioritizes community gardens and cultivating a culture of wellness at school. The report shows that nearly 20% of children in Penobscot County live in poverty and nearly 17% of middle and high school students in Penobscot County are obese. The CHNA also points to the high and rising rates of depression and anxiety among the young people in our community. According to a Maine CDC report brief (updated June 2018), each year, 30 Maine children die by suicide, a number that is higher than the national average and continues to rise.
“Our community is currently not meeting the many needs of our youth,” said Dwyer. “This is not something any of us should be proud of, and it is why at PCHC we are stepping up to improve access to mental health and preventive health care services, creating a new, safe place where children and families will receive high quality care, and where families can be connected to services and their community in a way that will allow them to raise their children in a loving, supportive, and healthy environment. This is more than just a building– it a place that will enable us to meet the needs of our kids and families—without judgment, and regardless of ability to pay.”
The new space is expected to open this fall at 6 Telcom Drive in Bangor. Fundraising is ongoing with a goal of raising one million dollars. More details about the fundraising campaign and the ability to make online donations can be found at www.pchckids.com.