NORWAY — Western Maine Health Care Corporation has announced the construction of a new medical office building in downtown as part of a $10 million project to meet increasing out-of-hospital care needs. 

The proposed 25,500-square-foot office building will be built behind Main Street on a three-acre vacant lot along Pikes Hill Road, which was once the site of the Cummings Mill. The new offices are expected to cost $8.2 million. 

The project will shuffle around some of the practices that fall under the WMH umbrella, Barbara Allen, vice president of community relations, said Thursday. Under the proposal, doctors’ offices at Oxford Hills Internal Medicine and a merged Western Maine Family Practice and Oxford Hills Family Practice will be housed in the new site. 

The driving force behind the expansion is a growth in outpatient care. Western Maine Health is embracing a health care model — known as a patient-centered medical home — which reorganizes primary care under the assumption that an increasing amount of patient care is taking place outside of a hospital setting, Allen said. 

“Stays in the hospital were once much longer and are now declining,” she said.

Also driving the expansion is a growth in the number of patients as well as a need to ease parking issues.  

As part of the project, Ripley Medical Building will undergo a $1.8 million renovation. After its personnel make the transition to the new office space, it will become the home of Western Maine Pediatrics. 

The project is expected to break ground in the spring and will take roughly a year to complete. Allen said it was too early to determine if expansion will create new positions. 

In a news release, David Preble, Western Maine Health Board chairman, said the decision to proceed with the project followed lengthy review and analysis.

“The shift of providing care in an outpatient setting rather than in a hospital continues to accelerate and this project will allow us to better meet this requirement,” he said.

“A primary goal for our organization is to improve access to care for our patients,” said Timothy Churchill, Western Maine Health President.

“We believe it will be a positive development for our medical staff, employees, patients and the communities we serve,” Churchill said.

The proposal is still in the planning stages, and a site plan review has not been submitted to the Planning Board, a Norway Town Office clerk confirmed Thursday.

According to Sun Journal archives, the old dowel mill was razed in 2005 after the Portland-based Libra Foundation purchased the site for $300,000.

The C.B. Cummings & Sons Co. family-owned mill was once one of the town’s leading employers, but closed after 142 years in business in 2002 because of increasing competition from overseas. 

Almost seven years ago to the date in August 2007, Western Maine Health Care Corporation purchased the site from Cummings Mill Holdings LLC, according to a property deed filed with the Oxford County Registry of Deeds. 

At the time, there was discussion of building a new office building at the site, though those eventually fell through, Allen said. Tipping the balance in favor of the project, she said, has been hospital’s ability to recruit new physicians in recent years. 

Town Manager David Holt welcomed news of the plan.

“The life they (the hospital) bring to downtown is a challenging thing to do,” Holt said. “They’re a great benefit for families living in the area.” 


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