The halls of the nursing home at the Houlton Regional Hospital are empty. Three staff members are at the front desk where usually, there would be more. The rooms are under construction. Come October, this nursing home will be closed.
Thomas Moakler, the hospital’s C.E.O. says, “When people hear something’s closing at a hospital it has a negative connotation but here it has a positive connotation”
Moakler says these changes are happening for a couple reasons- one being the decline in patients over the years. The Progressive Care Unit is licensed for nursing home patients and skill level patients – they’ll be closing that, and moving all the skill level patients into their acute care unit. Positive Steps physical therapy – along with other hospital services – will move into this wing.
“This unit which today is empty and quiet, in another month or so will be bustling with all these new services so we’re very fortunate that we’re able to do this,” he says.
Moakler says nursing home patients will be transferred to Madigan Estates or Gardiner Health Care facility – both of which are local. Now, this does mean fewer positions at the hospital – but they’re working to accommodate all the staff affected. Some staff from the Progressive Care Unit are being cross trained to work in the acute unit.
“No one has been on the unemployment line. That’s something we take very seriously and we’re very proud of,” he says.
Karla Hawksley, nursing coordinator says, ”Everybody seems to be very positive, it’s – you know, it’s a different working environment but the staff are working well together and the transition seems to be going smoothly”
Hawksley adds that the hospital’s acute unit will now have 30 staff – which increases the staff to patient ratio. Moakler says these changes will be beneficial the community because they will help keep the hospital financially viable.