WATERVILLE — The Thayer Center for Health on North Street temporarily closed its main entrance Monday, switching to the so-called “east entrance” while the hospital undergoes a $16 million renovation.
The main entrance closing will last about six weeks, according to MaineGeneral Health spokeswoman Diane Peterson. Both entrances are on the east side of the hospital, and the east entrance will be reconstructed in several weeks and will eventually be the permanent main entrance. A temporary information desk has been set up inside the east entrance, Peterson said.
The main entrance is being closed so that work can be done on the north-south corridor. The corridor inside the center will link the entrances, Peterson said.
A former inpatient hospital, Thayer in November moved its inpatient operations to the Alfond Center for Health, MaineGeneral’s new regional hospital in north Augusta.
Thayer is being transformed into what officials say will be a one-stop shopping health center for outpatients. Its four floors and basement will be full and will house not only a 24-hour emergency department but also doctors’ offices and related procedures, a pediatric center, day surgery, dialysis, workplace health, cardiac rehabilitation, wound healing clinic, radiology and diagnostic imaging and other departments.
Patients who go to the emergency department and have to be admitted to the hospital are taken by ambulance to Alfond, which is about a 20-minute drive south on Interstate 95.
Eastern Maine Healthcare System’s Inland Hospital on Kennedy Memorial Drive also admits patients.
Hospital officials say construction at Thayer is being done with little interruption to operations. For instance, day surgery there has been ongoing.
“Work on the Thayer Center for Health renovations is going smoothly and on schedule,” said Buffy Higgins, director of Thayer operations. “Although we apologize to our patients for any inconvenience during this time, for the most part, we’ve found our patients have expressed excitement about the coming changes as Thayer is poised to be transformed into the state’s most comprehensive outpatient center.”
Peterson said Monday that a new outpatient laboratory was opened recently near the inside of the east entrance and a new cardiac rehabilitation gymnasium was opened about a month ago on the first floor. A new staff library also opened on the terrace, or basement, level.
Work is ongoing in more than a dozen areas, including in the kitchen and cafeteria on the terrace level, Peterson said.
On the first floor, the laboratory area is under construction. Removal of concrete from a radiation treatment area used many years ago will be completed in about two weeks.
“Last week, we opened, in our imaging area, a new CT scanner,” Peterson said. “It’s brand new technology and it matches what we have at the Alfond Center for Health. It is on the first floor, close to the east entrance. Demolition is just about done on the second floor — physicians’ practices and surgical offices will go in there.”
The main entrance will reopen in June so that work can begin on the “east entrance,” to transform it into the main entrance. That entrance will open when the project is complete in October, according to Peterson. A canopy will be built on that entrance, and grading work will be done between the entrance and parking lot to ease the steep elevation there.