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Houlton Regional Hospital receives $2.2 million in federal funds

HOULTON, Maine — Southern Aroostook’s only hospital will soon be able to make a number of improvements thanks to the recent passage of the 2022 omnibus funding plan.

Houlton Regional Hospital is one of several Aroostook County entities that will benefit financially from the recently approved plan, to the tune of $2.2 million for the local hospital. It marks the first time that the Houlton hospital has received Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) funds, according to CEO Shawn Anderson.

This is absolutely a first for HRH,” Anderson said. “This is the first time the hospital has ever applied for CDS funding, so this is a big deal for us.”

The omnibus funding package passed the Senate by a vote of 68-29 Thursday. It then passed the House of Representatives Friday 225-201 before heading to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The funding will support facility improvements and equipment upgrades at HRH, which will help lower energy and heating costs and support continuity of health care operations. Houlton Regional Hospital serves southern Aroostook County and communities in northern Penobscot and northern Washington counties.

Specifically, the money from this package will be used to replace every inefficient window and door hospital-wide with high-efficiency windows and doors that will save the hospital thousands of dollars annually.

Additionally, Houlton Regional Hospital will replace HVAC components, which have outlasted their useful life, with an energy efficient system. The current system dates back to the 1970s.

In addition, HRHl plans to add a critical back-up generator to further support the six physician practices located in the Medical Office Building. While Houlton Regional Hospital’s main building is equipped with a back-up generator, it is not large enough to power the entire campus. 

This lack of campuswide energy can cause delays in patient diagnosis and treatment, create evacuation challenges and complicate transportation for many seniors who then need to reschedule medical appointments.  

Adding a back-up generator will power the Medical Office Building and the Community Center for Health Education, permitting patient care to proceed uninterrupted during power outages.

“Mainers in every part of the state should be able to receive the vital health care services they need without interruptions from power outages, which jeopardize access to care,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a senior member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. “A new back-up generator will make an enormous difference for the health care professionals at Houlton Regional Hospital and the patients they serve. In addition, investments in energy efficiency will help to permanently reduce utility costs for the hospital and help to drive down the overall cost of care.”

“At Houlton Regional Hospital, we are incredibly thankful for Sen. Collins’ work to secure important CDS funding for some projects that will serve patients well, keep them comfortable and safe, and allow the Hospital to operate in an efficient and cost-saving manner,” Anderson said. “We put a lot of time and thought into our proposal at HRH. We sought to submit a proposal that, first and foremost, had a positive impact on our patients and then on our facilities.  We can’t wait to get to work on making these patient-centered improvements to our campus.”

Anderson said he expects that work will be able to start these various projects in the spring of 2023. The hospital will start working with contractors immediately to start the planning process, he said.

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