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Fort Fairfield Community Health Advisory Committee and Town Leaders Begin Discussions on Future of Former Community General Hospital

FORT FAIRFIELD- A discussion on the future of the former Community General Hospital (CGH) Building and a tour of the Fort Fairfield facility brought together more than two dozen community leaders recently.

Fort Fairfield Town Councilors, members of the Quality of Place Council, and the Fort Fairfield Community Health Advisory Committee met with TAMC and Fort Fairfield Health Center officials at the site of the current Fort Fairfield Health Center. The Community Health Advisory Committee is looking for public input as they consider options for what to do with the building.

TAMC currently uses approximately one-fifth of the 51,000 square foot building – the upper level of the section of the facility constructed in 1961. The lower level of that wing, as well as the original hospital building constructed in 1950, are vacant. An adjacent doctors’ office building constructed in 1971 is partially used to house living quarters for TAMC’s Crown Ambulance Fort Fairfield crew.

TAMC President and CEO Sylvia Getman, joined by James McKenney, vice president of diagnostic and support services, and Tim Doak, facilities engineer, led a presentation featuring an overview of the facility before taking participants on a building tour.

“This is not about the Fort Fairfield Health Center and whether or not it will be here. This is about where in Fort Fairfield the Health Center will be,” said Getman. “We are committed to this community and its people. I have lived in small towns like Fort Fairfield through my life and chose to live in a small town when I moved to The County. I understand how important this health center is to this community. We not only want to keep it here, we want to grow it. We are currently actively recruiting for another physician to join the team already in place to serve residents.”

Current providers at the FFHC are Dr. Daniel Fowler and Family Nurse Practitioners Mary Coffin and Nadine Lamoreau. In addition to Primary Care Services, the health center offers integrated care management services as well as mental health services. Outpatient mental health services are offered weekly on site by Janelle Underwood- Charette, who provides individual counseling sessions. TAMC also recently relocated its diabetes educator to Fort Fairfield to work collaboratively with Coffin, who is a diabetes expert.

“We are heating and maintaining much more space than we need,” said Getman.

TAMC officials detailed the current challenges with the facility. At the top of the list is the fact that the existing utilities, including the boiler plant, are located in the original 1950 hospital. Additionally, all of the connections to municipal utilities run under that building. The unused part of the structure also contains asbestos in floor tiles and insulation around pipes.

In two groups, meeting participants were toured through each section of the facility. Afterwards, all came together to discuss next steps.

“I am glad we have come together to begin this discussion,” said Brent Churchill, a member of the Fort Fairfield Quality of Place Council following the tour. “Many residents of Fort Fairfield rely on TAMC for their healthcare services and have done so for many years. It is important we work together in a way that will not only retain, but expand the services offered through the Fort Fairfield Health Center. It is consistent with the part of our Council’s mission to provide an enhanced level of services to our citizens, in particular, to our seniors with the goal of allowing folks to age in place.”

A number of community members in attendance shared possible leads for non-profit and civic organizations that might be approached in the event they have use for the facility. Others asked questions of TAMC officials on options for taking down parts or all of the facility.

In the end, the respective organizations represented at the meeting agreed they wanted to solicit community-wide input as they explore options. Fort Fairfield Town Manager Dan Foster indicated the Quality of Place Council would add a brainstorming discussion on the future of the former CGH building to the group’s February 12 meeting agenda.

Members of the public with comments or thoughts concerning the facility are encouraged to contact any individual on the Fort Fairfield Community Health Advisory Committee. Those serving include Rayle Ainsworth, Stephanie Beaulieu, Scott Clark, Steve Clark, Donna Currie, Carolyn Dorsey, David Dorsey, Norman Grant, Kenneth Hensler, Betty Kent-Conant, Joe Lallande, Steve Poitras, and Peggy Strid.



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