Designing and building a $322 million state-of-art hospital and comprehensive outpatient center is no easy task.
It takes many skilled, committed, passionate and knowledgeable individuals, from architectural designers, contractors and subcontractors, to medical professionals, patients and community members.
Our Behind the Scenes
pages will profile many of these individuals over the life of the project. New profiles will be added regularly.
Meet MaineGeneral Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Paul Stein
Paul Stein never imagined he’d be MaineGeneral's “point person” for design and construction of the new Alfond Center for Health.
coming to MaineGeneral Medical Center in 2002 as the director of
Environmental Services, Paul has taken on additional leadership
He was named administrative director of
Support Services in 2004 and is the leader for design and construction
of the Alfond Center for Health and Thayer Center for Health projects.
classic example of someone who has risen through the ranks thanks to
hard work, commitment and the support of "many good people" around him,
Paul was named MGMC's chief operating officer (COO) on Jan. 1, 2013.
his new role, he will work closely with Sherri Woodward, chief nursing
officer, to manage MGMC's day-to-day operations and transition to the
new hospital in November 2013 and the redesigned Thayer in 2015.
many folks can say they’ve had a hand in building a hospital that’s
going to be around for another 75 years? I’m very thankful for the many
opportunities this project has afforded me," Paul says.
project is such a motivating factor for me and so many others involved
in the planning and construction,” he adds. “So many of us not only work
here, but we live here, too. This is our hospital we are building. When
I drive by it, I feel so proud that I’ve been part of the process.”
his new role as COO, Paul says he is eager to take on new
responsibilities, build on the strides MaineGeneral is taking to improve
patients' experiences and make sure the hospital achieves its budgetary
goals. He also looks forward to having input into the bigger picture.
“We've accomplished so much at MaineGeneral in the past few years and I'm excited about what's to come."
holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the State
University of New York in Brockport, NY and a master's degree in
business administration from Thomas College in Waterville.
his spare time, Paul enjoys spending time with his wife Nicole and son
Justin at their home in Manchester, on their boat on Cobbossee Lake or
on the golf course. He also recently joined the board of Granite Hill
Retirement Community in Hallowell.
Meet Rick Albert
MaineGeneral Director of Plant Operations/Engineering
“When we broke ground, none of us ever expected it would go this well.”
That’s Rick Albert, MaineGeneral’s director of plant operations/engineering, talking about the New Regional Hospital construction process.
“To be six months ahead of schedule is unheard of. It doesn’t happen. The difference here is people’s level of commitment to this project and MaineGeneral’s commitment to keeping things local," Rick says.
More than 90 percent of the people working on building MaineGeneral’s new hospital, the Alfond Center for Health, are from Maine. Many of them live in the hospital’s service area.
“A lot of the workers live in this area. They're building 'their hospital,' so they have a lot of pride in their work. And we are proud of our commitment to using local labor," he says.
Rick is part of the project management team overseeing day-to-day operations. Born and raised in Augusta, less than a mile from the job site, he is building 'his hospital,' too.
Rick worked for Bath Iron Works for more than 26 years so he never really felt connected to the community until he came to work for MaineGeneral in 2005.
“Now everything I do impacts this community, which is a neat feeling," he says. "So for me, the commitment to Maine labor is huge.”
When Rick sits back and thinks about the Alfond Center for Health, what stands out most in his mind is the collaboration.
“For me, this project brings collaboration to a whole new level,” he says. “Architects, construction, design and engineering, MaineGeneral staff and patients and family members – all have been involved from the start. This has led to great decisions, with patients at the center of each of them, from flooring choices to putting the air-handling equipment in penthouses so there is no noise for patients and it can be fixed without interrupting care. It is going to be an amazing facility.”
For Rick and everyone working on the new hospital, it's an honor to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I think a lot of people thought it would never happen, except for those of us working on it. Everything has fallen into place so well that we know this new hospital is meant to be," he says.
When the doors of his hospital open in November 2013, Rick Albert will have a lot to feel proud of.
Meet Administrative Director Deb Karter
In her 39 years at MaineGeneral, Deb Karter has worked as a nurse in behavioral health, critical care, cardiac rehabilitation and wellness.
She has floated among units, worked as a manager and now serves as administrative director for Critical Care, Emergency Medicine, Dialysis, Respiratory Care, A-1 and 2 Central (medical-surgical units in Augusta and Waterville, respectively).
Deb has seen and done a lot in her career but says the biggest and best thing she’s been a part of is the effort to design and built MaineGeneral's new hospital, the Alfond Center for Health, and redesign its Thayer Campus into the Thayer Center for Health.
“As a leader, it's a huge opportunity to work on this project and I’m very proud to be part of it,” Deb says.
Deb has been an important part of the new hospital design since the start.
A member of the initial team that visited other hospitals to learn from their design and operations, she also has been the clinical leader helping to design the emergency and critical care areas of the new hospital.
Now her efforts are focused on helping to plan MaineGeneral’s transition to the new facility. She predicts the time until the hospital opens in November 2013 to be a time of growth for everyone at MaineGeneral.
“Our goal is to be a high-performing organization,” Deb said. “It isn’t just about a shiny, new building. It’s a whole philosophy and culture of excellence that we're working toward.”
Deb said she is most proud of how efficient and effective the design and construction process has been since the start. She credits the integrated project delivery (IPD) process which harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to maximize efficiency through all phases of design and construction. The result will be a wonderful, state-of-the-art hospital and outpatient center.
“From the start, I’ve felt the power of people working together with a plan and a common goal,” Deb said. “All of us are reaching for the stars and here they are, right in front of us.”
Meet MaineGeneral Health President & CEO Chuck Hays
Chuck Hays has been involved in the design of every major renovation or new construction project MaineGeneral Medical Center has undertaken during his 17-year tenure.
For the largest construction project in the organization’s history, Chuck assumed a different role – one of oversight and guidance for an effort he expects will transform health care in the Kennebec Valley for generations.
As it is for many, the effort to both build a new, patient-centered hospital and redesign Waterville’s Thayer Campus into a comprehensive outpatient center is the highlight of his professional career.
“It’s immeasurable because very few people have an opportunity like this – to reshape health care in the Kennebec Valley and also build a new facility that’s designed for the future,” he says. “I’m proud to be part of the incredible team that’s working on this project. I just can’t imagine anything more fulfilling in one’s work life.”
The Manchester resident also takes pride in the success of the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach that he and MaineGeneral Chief Operating Officer Paul Stein championed and the impact it has had on the success of the work thus far.
“We wanted to follow as pure an IPD philosophy as we could because we thought it would be best for the success of the project,” he says. “I’m thrilled at how well it has been going. The construction team is a well-oiled machine and everyone is really cranking in the same direction.
“Just like with the cancer center, I think using local people to build the hospital is huge,” he adds. “The quality of their work is excellent, they care about the project and they don’t want their name associated with it if it’s not right.”
Asked if he ever felt stunned by the enormity of the project, Chuck notes there was one instance early on in the planning stages.
“The first day I walked onto the site and saw where the building was staked out my reaction was ‘Oh my God! This thing’s huge!’” he says. “I always knew it was and could give you all of the statistics for the building, but until I saw it staked out, I didn’t have a full appreciation for the size.”
Now that the construction effort is well underway, Chuck and others at MaineGeneral are working with consultants on another enormous aspect of the project – planning for the transition of staff, services, operations and – most importantly – patients to the new hospital.
“We’ve done a lot of work to get to this point, but I keep reminding people that the work continues after we move to the new hospital. We have to ensure we get it functioning right and then we have to focus on the Thayer redesign,” he says.
And while construction is currently about six months ahead of initial projections, Chuck won’t rest easy until the facility is complete and key benchmarks have been met.
“I’m really happy with the way the construction is going right now, but I’ll feel really good about it when we’re in the building and its on time and under budget,” he says.
In his free time, Chuck enjoys spending time with his family – wife Maria, son Chuck and daughter Katie – and is an avid fisherman, bird hunter and golfer. He also enjoys home improvement projects.
Meet Patient Family Centered Care Director Elise Klysa
Elise Klysa, workforce strategist and director of Patient Family Centered Care, loves being creative and facilitating positive change.
Whether she is taking beautiful pictures or leading a team, Elise loves looking at things in new and different ways. That’s what inspires her about MaineGeneral's new hospital, the Alfond Center for Health, and its comprehensive outpatient center, the Thayer Center for Health.
“This is an opportunity to look at new ways of doing everything, to get rid of old habits that don’t serve us,” she says. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create a future that provides the best patient and family experience, and I think we are making great strides.”
Elise makes sure the voices of the patient and family are integrated into every phase of this project, from way-finding to patient room design.
She facilitates the Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) that meets regularly with the design and construction team. As with many people involved with this project, her passion is personal.
“My mom had a severe cardiac event while visiting me and she had care from many staff in all major parts of the MaineGeneral system," she says. "I saw every major unit from a family perspective, and I craved the chance to play a larger role as a member of her care team, as I knew I’d be responsible for her when she got home."
“We have such a wonderful opportunity to engage our patients and families in guiding us as we seek ways to improve the care we deliver," Elise adds. "I'm proud this is part of our philosophy of care and the model that guides our actions as we move forward.”
When away from her work at MaineGeneral, Elise is an accomplished photographer who also loves to kayak, work in her vegetable garden and ride her bike. In fact, she commutes to and from her Augusta office on two wheels whenever she can.
Meet Senior Vice President of Patient Services Sherri Woodward
Ask Sherri Woodward what MaineGeneral’s construction project means to her and her response is immediate, delivered with a hint of her North Carolina roots — “It is the highlight of my career.”
That’s saying a lot for someone who’s nursing career spans 37 years—29 of them with MaineGeneral.
Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Patient Services since 2007, Sherri has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility and leadership. Her focus remains on creating models of care that meet the needs of patients and communities.
“To be in a leadership position and be able to make a difference in creating an environment that supports patient and family centered care I hope will be my legacy,” she says.
She acknowledges that the medical center’s current facilities make that challenging.
“We provide good care, but with semi-private rooms it’s difficult to accommodate patients and their families. With all private rooms in the new hospital, we’ll be able to give control back to patients in a space that brings together all the soothing elements of nature and light.
Last year Sherri led an effort to establish the medical center’s first Patient Family Advisory Council. Made up of community members, former patients and their families, the council is designed to involve patients in finding ways to improve hospital experiences.
Sherri is part of a key group of design decision makers who worked on the design of the new medical center and is the point person in charge of the mammoth job of transitioning staff into the new facility. That job is already under way so staff can hit the ground running when the doors open.
Sherri also sees the project as the clincher in bringing together staff at the Waterville and Augusta facilities.
“With staff from both facilities working on this together, we’ve built a stronger sense of community. It’s a great uniting project.”
In her spare time, Sherri works toward her second graduate degree — this one a master’s in nursing administration at St. Joseph’s College. In 2000, she earned a master’s in business administration from Thomas College.
When she’s not working on a course, Sherri is an avid gardener and reader and also enjoys sewing and quilting.
Meet MaineGeneral Administrative Director Jennifer Riggs
Jennifer Riggs, MaineGeneral administrative director of Cardiology, Imaging and Women’s and Children’s Services, says she has the best job in the world.
When asked what inspires her about being closely involved with the new hospital project, Jen doesn't hesitate to respond enthusiastically.
“I’ve been at MaineGeneral for 23 years, and being part of this design and construction effort is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved in a project that will have such an enormous impact on our region.”
Jen was part of the Administrative Director group that worked with the architects and oversaw the design of the new hospital now going up before their eyes.
She also is part of a user group made up of staff and physicians who are designing the diagnostic treatment space and maternity unit.
“We engaged our staff and physicians to look outside the box to find ways to make our patients’ experiences better,” she says.
Jen also is involved in planning the transition from MaineGeneral Medical Center’s current campuses to the new one.
“I’m very excited about how this new hospital and outpatient center will transform and improve care for patients and families now and well into the future,” she says.
“I’m also proud to be part of a project that’s doing so much for our local economy and for our state. It’s an honor to be involved.”
In her spare time, Jen is a sports mom and “taxi driver” for her two children. She also loves to garden and read.
Meet MaineGeneral's Construction Manager John Milbrand
When it comes to construction projects, John Milbrand admittedly is “like the little kid in the sandbox.”
“I like to watch construction happening, so I’m in ‘seventh heaven’ here,” he says.
John's current “sandbox” – MaineGeneral’s 640,000-square-foot hospital project – is considerably larger than the one he worked in before – the 59,000-square-foot Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care, which is adjacent to the facility being built on Old Belgrade Road in Augusta.
And with the tremendous difference in scale comes a much greater level of complexity.
“The difference is primarily a matter of scope, scale and size. This project is 10 times the size of the cancer center in every respect,” he notes. “For the cancer center, we also didn’t do IPD (integrated project delivery) but we did have a very collaborative relationship with the architects and contractors. It was sort of the forerunner to IPD for us. The concept of IPD wasn’t heard of here when we did the cancer center.”
Integrated project delivery, by definition, is a collaboration of people, systems, business structures and practices that harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication and construction.
In the case of the new hospital - the Alfond Center for Health - it is a partnership between MaineGeneral, architects and designers SMRT and TRO Jung|Brannen
, general contractors HP Cummings and Robins & Morton, and all of the many specialized subcontractors involved in the project.
John says the IPD collaboration is essential to the project’s initial and continued success.
“The whole principle revolves around trust. With IPD, you’re relying on a high level of trust with the other parties involved. To give you a sense of the level of trust involved in this project, we basically worked on this project for more than a year - and paid bills associated with it - without a contract. We were working under a memorandum of understanding. You couldn’t do that in the old world.”
For the 67-year-old Waterville resident, being involved in the single, largest health care construction project in the Kennebec Valley and seeing it completed will be the crowning achievement in an engineering career spanning more than four decades.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime project,” he says. “I’ve built buildings from scratch many times during my career, but never anything of this scope. It was a big feather in my cap when we opened the cancer center and this project is a whole war bonnet full of feathers. “
“I consider this ‘my hospital’ and I think a lot of the other people involved with the project think the same way,” he says. “I understand how important it is to this area and I’m extremely proud to be of part of this extraordinary project.”
Meet PFAC members Don & Joyce Douin
Longtime hospital volunteers and sometime patients Joyce and Don Douin are two of the Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) members. They say their motivation is to create a welcoming environment where patients needs come first.
Don describes being asked to serve on the council as a "Wow!" moment.
“To me this feels great. It’s exciting that the hospital is interested in hearing what we can contribute from the perspective of both patients and volunteers," he says. "Building a new regional hospital is something we’ll never see again in our lifetime. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”
“This is our hospital," Joyce adds. "We should be involved."
Volunteers at MaineGeneral Medical Center's Augusta Campus information desk and in its Pastoral Care department, the Douins escort patients to appointments and tests in the hospital, and also offer communion to patients who request it. That gives them ample opportunity to interact with patients and share their observations with the council.
“We sometimes hear patient complaints and we ask them, 'What are your concerns, what would you like to see done better and what are some of the little things we can address?'," Don says.
And Joyce’s recent lengthy hospital stay in a Portland hospital gave the couple insight on how things are done at other hospitals.
“Don couldn’t stay overnight unless he wanted to sleep in a recliner in a room I shared with another patient,” Joyce recalls.
For the Pittston residents,that meant a very long round-trip commute for Don every day. That’s one of the things that will be addressed in the new hospital.
“The private rooms are going to be large and comfortable enough for family members to stay over,” Joyce says.
Council members bring a breath of backgrounds and experiences to the table, Don says. “If we can bring the synergy from those different experiences and translate that into a patient- and family-focused hospital, we’ll all be much more enriched." So far, hospital administrators are very receptive, he adds.
Meet the MaineGeneral Team:
Patient Family Advisory Council
Should patient rooms have windows facing interior corridors in MaineGeneral’s New Regional Hospital?
This question sparked a lively debate at a meeting of the hospital’s Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC).
At issue: balancing patients’ privacy with nursing concerns about patient safety.
After looking at other systems already in place to ensure patient safety, the design team went with the council's decision of no windows.
“It shows the powerful voice this group has,” said Ted LaCrone, design process project manager.
This is one of the many design details about which the council will offer feedback. They reflect the council's goal: to involve patients and caregivers in decision making to improve patient experiences.
“This is a partnership involving patients, their family members, volunteers and caregivers,” explains Elise Klysa, director of Family Centered Care. “We want to make sure their voices are heard.”
MaineGeneral's Patient Family Advisory Council is comprised of the following community members:
- Don & Joyce Douin, Pittston
- Jessica Dwyer, Manchester
- George Fergusson, Whitefield
- Bob McCarthy, Augusta
- Jean Gauthier (MaineGeneral employee and patient), Waterville
- Patricia Royall, Richmond
- Craig Rutledge
- Lorraine McCabe, Farmingdale
- Alicia Kellogg
- Heather Sargent
- Steven True, Clinton
- Brent Williams, Winslow
MaineGeneral employees who also serve on the council are: Mary Balbo, Deb Bowden, Rabun Dodge, Kim Gilbert, Elise Klysa, Katie Sendze, Paul Stein and Sherri Woodward.