CALAIS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- An area nursing home will be closing now that the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has given final approval to a request by the facility's owner to build another nursing home in Ellsworth.
That decision means that 'Atlantic Rehab and Nursing Center' will close. According to the facility's administrator John Wood, currently there are 19 patients at the facility and about 45 to 50 remaining staff.
The nursing home's parent company, 'First Atlantic Healthcare' asked the state's permission to build a 61 bed facility in Ellsworth. Company officials claimed that it intended to close the Calais facility because it was too costly to run.
Calais city manager Diane Barnes talked to NEWS CENTER by phone on Friday about the commissioner's decision.
"There's going to be an unmet need here for nursing facility beds, as we move forward now that the commissioner has her decision," she said, "The city of Calais will continue to look for solutions and options...we'll discuss anything that anyone you know. If somebody comes up with an option we'll discuss it."
In a press release, DHHS officials said that they wanted to clarify that the commissioner did not approve of closing the Calais facility but only approved of allowing First Atlantic to build a facility in Ellsworth.
Meanwhile, city leaders in Ellsworth are seeing the positive end of the nursing home's relocation.
City officials say that there is a growing need in the region for more nursing home beds, which is exactly what DHHS discovered in the certificate of need application. Now 'First Atlantic Healthcare' will build a replacement facility for it's 'Colliers Healthcare Center' on Birch Avenue. Ellsworth city manager Michelle Beal says that the city is ready to work with 'First Atlantic' to find a new sight for the replacement facility.
"Obviously it's a great economic development for Ellsworth," she said, "this project is actually one that we advocated for because it follows our economic development strategy perfectly... it's the health care field... it's helping our seniors which is another of our focuses. It's a great project."
Ken Bowden, the CEO of 'First Atlantic Healthcare' said that the Ellsworth facility should be up and running within the next two years. It would have 61 nursing facility beds and 30 assisted living beds. Bowden did not have a definite timetable for closure of the Calais facility but did say the following in a statement:
"We are sensitive to city of Calais residents and employees. We're going to do the right thing to make sure alternative arrangements can be found that are appropriate and in the best interest of residents."
Bowden added that he would work to assist staff in finding new employment in the area or to apply for positions at 'First Atlantic's' other facilities.