Brewer News

EMHS awaits spot in Brewer Professional Center

2.02.2006 – With the Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health and the possibility of a $28 million cancer center occupying space in the soon-to-be-constructed second building within the Brewer Professional Center, the planned structure is practically full, officials are saying.

“The genetics lab all by itself will take a large chunk of the next building, but by no means all,” Gerry Whalen, vice president of business development for Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, said Wednesday.

After discussing the possibility of building a smaller-sized facility to hold the genetics lab, EMHS officials decided to stick with the original plans for four matching buildings at the 72-acre Brewer Professional Center site, and started to look for a second big tenant, he said.

It’s hoped that Eastern Maine Medical Center will be that tenant with its proposed cancer center.

“That’s the plan, but they have to wait until the state issues a certificate of need,” D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer director of economic development, said Wednesday. “It would be quite good if we got that certificate.”

EMMC filed a letter of intent in October with the state Department of Health and Human Services to build a proposed cancer center in Brewer, one of 12 projects in the state vying for approval. The state has until the end of May to make its decision and issue a certificate of need, which is required before hospitals can expand their facilities.

If approved, the 60,000-square foot cancer center would open in three years and would help alleviate the ever-increasing patient volumes seeking treatment at EMMC’s CancerCare of Maine in Bangor.

“Their patient load has gone up 66 percent in the last eight years or so,” Whalen said. “They’re expanding to meet patient needs.”

The plans for Brewer include 30 chemotherapy stations and exam and office space at the facility located at the end of Dirigo Drive.

The genetics lab will work on new medical breakthroughs based on research conducted in Maine laboratories that address aging and chronically ill populations in rural Maine.

“The cancer center as a stand-alone is wonderful, but the bigger story is with the human genetics lab in the same building … this becomes sort of a mecca for science,” Main-Boyington said.

Whalen agreed, adding that the synergy created between the research lab and cancer treatment facility make the two groups perfect partners.

Maine Institute for Human Genetics and Health, a partnership between EMHS, the University of Maine in Orono, and The Jackson Lab in Bar Harbor, started a year ago and has a temporary home within the Cianchette Building, headquarters for EMHS. It was announced in December that $2 million has been set aside by the federal government for the genetics lab.

The Brewer Professional Center, which lies at the top of Whiting Hill, is already drawing the attention of scientists and businesspeople from all over the area and globe, City Manager Steve Bost said Wednesday.

“The second building represents a significant move toward the eventual building out of the [four-building] campus,” he said. “The spin-off economic development activity from that second building alone will be very significant.”

Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield completed construction on the approximately $20 million Cianchette Building in spring 2004. While EMMC and EMHS wait to hear what the state decides in May, the city continues to move forward with marketing all four Brewer Professional Center buildings.

“We’re already making plans for building No. 3,” Main-Boyington said.

A copyright story from the Bangor Daily News, Thursday, February 2, 2006 by Nok-Noi Hauger.