WATERVILLE — MaineGeneral Health will relocate 180 employees to the second floor of the Hathaway Creative Center in downtown Waterville, hospital officials announced Tuesday.
Chuck Hays, chief executive officer of MaineGeneral, said the hospital is committed to economic development in downtown Waterville.
“We are pleased to make another significant contribution to Waterville’s downtown revitalization, and to be a part of the preservation of this historic landmark,” Hays said.
The announcement about the move, which will take place in July 2014, is the latest development in the hospital system’s ongoing major restructuring, which includes consolidating inpatient services at the $312 million Alfond Center for Health that’s being built in north Augusta.
Hays said the move is an affirmation of the hospital’s commitment to remain as the city’s largest employer.
“I think, for us, we just wanted to solidify our belief in Waterville,” he said.
MaineGeneral already rents 40,000 square feet at the Hathaway Center to host 150 MaineGeneral employees in home care, hospice, mental health, substance abuse, human resources, Internet technology and philanthropy departments.
After the hospital moves billing and bill collection services to the center, it will have a total of 330 employees working out of 70,000 square feet there.
The deal between the Hathaway center and MaineGeneral has been in the works for years. Former MaineGeneral CEO Scott Bullock first mentioned it publicly in 2008, when the hospital became the center’s anchor tenant.
The consolidated services will include reassignment of employees who work in Augusta, Gardiner and at Waterville’s Seton campus.
LeAnn Kaufman, administrative director of one of the affected departments, said she is excited about the transition to a consolidated office. She said she looked “forward to additional employee participation in the design of the office space.”
As part of the reorganization, the Seton campus and MaineGeneral’s Augusta hospital on East Chestnut Street will be closed, while MaineGeneral’s Thayer campus in Waterville will be redesigned into an outpatient center. The newly named Thayer Center for Health will remain open during renovations, which will begin in January 2014.
By moving more of the back-office functions, such as billing, out of the sites where patient services are provided, Hays said the need for patients to travel will be reduced.
“Locating more clinical departments under one roof at the Thayer Center for Health gives patients the ability to have tests and procedures done without the added stress or strain of having to travel,” he said.
Paul Boghossian, developer of the Hathaway center, said he was thrilled, and that the move from MaineGeneral will spur further development in other buildings in the Lockwood Mills complex, which he first envisioned in 2004.
The Hathaway center, formerly a shirt factory, is one of three buildings in the historic Lockwood Mills complex. The other two are the former Central Maine Power Co. and Marden’s Surplus & Salvage.
“With this expansion, there will soon be more than 600 people living and working in the building,” he said.
MaineGeneral employs about 4,000 people system-wide, including about 1,000 people in the Waterville area.
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287