PITTSFIELD — The new 25,000-square-foot wing at Sebasticook Valley Hospital merges modern medical care with earth tones, quiet and privacy.

The new wing opens Monday, with 19 private rooms, each with its own bathroom, shower and sink. Six existing inpatient rooms will be renovated to match the news ones, bringing the total number of rooms to 25, said acting Chief Executive Officer Terri Vieira.

In the old inpatient wing of the hospital, built in 1963, each room had two beds with one toilet and a sink to serve four patients, so it was time to modernize for patient comfort and privacy, Vieira said. The public is invited to tour the new area of the hospital from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Hospitals officials said the $13.5 million construction coincides with the 50th anniversary of the rural hospital’s founding, highlighting its community roots and its role as a critical access hospital.

“This is big for this community,” Vieira said. “This speaks to the fact that health care in the Sebasticook Valley region is important and it speaks to our future here. We’re making a commitment — we’ve been here for 50 years and we plan to be here in the future.”

Jeff Austin, vice president of government affairs and communications at the Maine Hospital Association, said the federal government recognizes the importance of providing people — particularly vulnerable populations in rural areas, such those served by Sebasticook Valley in Somerset County — with access to care within a reasonable distance of where they live.

As a result, critical assess hospitals get more favorable reimbursement than do larger hospitals.

“In exchange, the hospitals have to limit their range and scope of services,” Austin said. “However, they still are expected to provide high quality care. So, like other industries, hospitals make investments in their plant and equipment.”

The new wing at Sebasticook Valley has five large “super suites” with two beds each, a couch, television, private walk-in shower and large windows, all separated by a retractable wall for privacy for longer term patients.

The expansion also includes three special care rooms, with a lift system that can take critically ill patients directly from bed into a nearby shower room.

Vieira said the hospital serves more than 30,000 people a year.

“I believe health care is local and we’re going to be here for those communities and those people,” she said.

Vieira said 25 beds is the maximum allowed for rural, so-called critical access hospitals to be eligible for federal funding. The designation was established by federal law for special payments under the Medicare program.

“We have 25 beds — we did not increase our number of beds,” Vieira said. “They will just be more private, larger and all will have a private bathroom.”

The layout, with earth tone walls, deep carpeting and low ceilings with acoustic tiles to absorb sound, is a loop of patient rooms with staff work stations down the center of the loop. Doors from the service stations open onto each corridor of the loop.

“We tried to create space that was soft, with natural colors,” Vieira. “There are wood panels; green and tan colors. We tried to use as much natural light as we could, to bring the natural elements inside; flowers and vines and leaf patterns on the wallpaper and curtains.”

The cost of construction came in at about $13.5 million, which includes the new inpatient bed area, new basement support area for heating and power systems and renovations to existing inpatient rooms to match the new ones.

The boiler system was designed for easy conversion to natural gas if that service ever is offered to North Main Street in Pittsfield.

The expansion affected various areas throughout the hospital during an 18-month period, beginning with the upgrade of the hospital’s parking and walking areas in 2012; the inpatient wing expansion; and upgrades to the hospital’s heating and cooling systems.

Vieira said the project was financed with about $2 million in community donations, $8 million in combined 3.3 percent interest loans from Bangor Savings Bank and $3.5 million from a hospital construction fund accumulated over the years.

According to reports filed the hospital with the Internal Revenue Service, Sebasticook reported $31.9 million in revenue for the 2011 fiscal year.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]