May 12, 2013

New MaineGeneral hospital to save big on utility costs

North Augusta facility, slated to open Nov. 9, cuts bills from $7.80 per square foot to $3.27

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Utility costs in the new regional hospital in northwest Augusta are expected to be less than half of the current bill.

click image to enlarge

This September 2007 file photo, left, shows MaineGeneral Medical Center's Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta. The May 2013 photo, at right, show the new regional hospital that is nearing completion in the background.

Staff photos by Andy Molloy and Joe Phelan

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Construction workers can be seen near the entrance of the new MaineGeneral Medical Center regional hospital in Augusta last week.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Additional Photos Below

WHAT'S INSIDE

These practices and services will have offices inside the new regional hospital:

• MaineGeneral practices: Augusta Family Medicine, Infusion Clinic, MaineGeneral Pulmonology, Infectious Disease Clinic, Wound Healing Clinic, MaineGeneral Gastroenterology, MaineGeneral Surgery, MaineGeneral OB/GYN and MaineGeneral Midwifery Services.

• Private practices: Augusta Pulmonary Medicine, Maine Partners MaineHealth Cardiology, Waterville Women's Care, Kennebec Anesthesia Business Office.

The Alfond Center for Health, which will combine inpatient services of MaineGeneral Medical Center's Thayer campus in Waterville and the East Chestnut Street hospital in Augusta, is scheduled to open Nov. 9.

Hospital officials sought to meet requirements for a silver certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program created by the U.S. Green Building Council. They will end up getting a higher, gold certification for health care facilities, said John Scott, project manager on the construction site.

The neighboring Alfond Center for Cancer Care, which opened in July 2007 — before health care-specific standards were in place — received silver certification.

"Currently our utility costs for our main campuses are $7.80 per square foot," said Paul Stein, MaineGeneral Medical Center's chief operating officer. "At the Alfond Center for Health, we anticipated costs to be $3.27 per sq. ft. This is due to our LEED design that includes efficiency in heating/cooling systems, a tight building envelope, low-water-flow technology, LED (light-emitting diode) outside lighting, high-efficiency light fixtures throughout the facility, and the availability of natural gas."

The energy-efficiency label reflects real dollar and resource savings. Predictions early on were that the building would use 12 million fewer gallons of water and $900,000 less in annual heating and cooling costs.

At least one of the factors in gaining an energy-efficiency certification is visible from the air: the white roofing membrane.

"The intent of the white roof is to reflect off heat," Scott said. "It makes the building a little easier to cool. The theory is that — at least in the city — a black roof holds heat; the white roof is intended to mitigate it."

Chris Russell, project manager for G&E Roofing Co., Inc., of Augusta, which did the hospital roofing, said insulation is important as well.

"First of all, the roof has to be insulated properly, which is a very significant factor in energy savings regardless of color, and this hospital is certainly insulated properly," he said.

He said Hannaford supermarkets specify white roofing on new buildings and replacement roofs, and G&E Roofing does that work for most of their buildings.

"White roofs have been the trend for the past couple of years," he said.

While safety lines remain on the hospital roof and workers continue on the outside landscaping, the painting, flooring and installing of fixtures continues on the inside.

The 192 private patient rooms are shaping up with some almost finished at the new hospital under construction in north Augusta.

Most of those rooms use an innovative new design with a sliding door allowing unimpeded access to bathrooms and European showers, which will accommodate both wheelchairs and a caregiver.

"The sliding door is all about patient safety," Scott said. "It allows us to put hand rails all the way to the toilet."

Each room has ceiling tracks for patient lifts.

A window in each room reaches almost to the floor so patients can be in bed and still see the outdoors.

Stein said studies have shown that increased natural light reduces patients' need for pain medication, and the light improves staff satisfaction.

The hospital will be tracking patient safety and satisfaction scores to grade the success of the innovations in design.

"We're putting all those things to the test," he said.

Both he and Scott said many of the innovations at the new site resulted from extensive planning and research into how things are done at hospitals across the country.

"We're hoping that five years from now, people don't see too many misses," Stein said.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

This photo, taken during a tour on Tuesday, shows that patient rooms at the new MaineGeneral regional hospital in North Augusta feature sliding doors on the bathrooms .

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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This photo, taken during a tour on Tuesday, shows that patient rooms at the new MaineGeneral regional hospital in North Augusta feature tall windows so that a patient in bed can see outside.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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This photo, taken during a tour on Tuesday, shows one of the seven operating rooms at the new MaineGeneral regional hospital in North Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

This photo, taken during a tour on Tuesday, shows one of the seven operating rooms at the new MaineGeneral regional hospital in North Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

click image to enlarge

This aerial photo, taken in May, shows the new MaineGeneral regional hospital being built in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

 


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