LEWISTON — Central Maine Orthopaedics has developed a concept, in cooperation with Grow L+A and the Fitness and Wellness Professional Services of Princeton, N.J., to establish an integrated fitness and medical service center at Bates Mill No. 5.

The Princeton company has opened a number of similar sites in New Jersey, partnering with hospitals in each community to coordinate community fitness and wellness services. The hospitals include the University Medical Center at Princeton, the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the Hackensack University Medical Center.

In Maine, the partner hospital is Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Central Maine Healthcare spokesman Chuck Gill said Monday that the partners have had some initial discussions about the project and have agreed to move forward with a feasibility study, but that no project details were yet firm.

Brian Vaill, who is chairman of a capital campaign launched by John F. Murphy Homes in April to build a $25 million fitness center on a 24-acre riverfront site near Marden’s, lashed out at the CMO plan Monday, saying JFM has been working on its plan for the past three years and it wasn’t until the Sun Journal’s April 15 report of the JFM capital campaign that the CMO plan was made public.

According to Kelly David, public relations manager for Central Maine Orthopaedics, CEO Dr. Michael Cox had been working with Grow L+A on the idea of opening a medically-integrated health care facility at Bates Mill No. 5 six months before the John F. Murphy announcement was made, but that he wasn’t aware JFM was planning to open a fitness facility until it was announced.


Once Cox was aware, David said, the parties sat down and talked about their projects.

Vaill came away from meetings with the impression that CMMC, CMO and Grow L+A would not work with him, but David said she didn’t believe “they’ve been rebuffed as strongly as they’re saying they’ve been.”

So far, the CMO-CMMC-Grow L-A idea is a concept under study, David said, and one that appeals to the parties because of the work already being done in New Jersey.

Vaill is critical of what he considers a competing plan, saying the “two proposed projects could be compared to a David and Goliath story,” with the hospital-affiliated plan “backed by power local medical establishments with deep pockets … based on a formula of high profits with services directed at those that can afford their fees and hospital referrals.”

By comparison, he said the JFM Homes project is “built around a nonprofit structure with construction and operational funds coming from community donations.”

He’s certain the hospital-affiliated plan won’t make any special accommodations for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, including disabled veterans and senior citizens, noting that the mission of the JFM Homes plan would be tailored specifically for that clientele.

He doesn’t think the Twin Cities can support both centers and that if the CMO-CMMC-Grow L+A plan proceeds, it will crush the JFM plan. If CMO proceeds, Vaill said, “a large cloud hangs over the future of a wellness and fitness center” constructed and operated by JFM.

Representatives of the CMO-CMMC-Grow L+A plan downplayed competition between the two plans, repeating that its plan is a concept they plan to study in the coming months.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify information that was incorrectly provided to the Sun Journal by JFM about when the CMO-CMMC-Grow L+A plan was launched.

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