Central Maine Healthcare plans to build a 50,000-square-foot cancer center at its Lewiston property. It would be at the northeast quadrant of the Central Maine Medical Center property, bounded by Holland Street to the north, High Street to the south, and Main Street to the east. Courtesy photo

LEWISTON — Central Maine Medical Center’s parent company hopes to create a $35 million cancer center in Lewiston.

Central Maine Healthcare’s center would be 50,000 square feet and occupy the northeast quadrant of the Central Maine Medical Center property, bordered by Holland Street to the north, High Street to the south and Main Street to the east. It would replace, modernize and consolidate the current outpatient oncology program at the hospital.

“The goal here is about access and creating resources for people so they can receive their treatments close to home and don’t have to be stuck in a car, driving long distances,” said Mike Anderegg, vice president for service line strategy.

According to CMHC, there are 42,825 patient visits each year to CMMC’s breast center, infusion clinic, radiation oncology department and oncology clinic.

Central Maine Healthcare plans to build a 50,000 square foot cancer center at its Lewiston property. Image provided by CMHC

“As we anticipate the future needs of an aging population — with among the highest incidence of cancer located here in central Maine — we want to provide enhanced access to quality care,” CEO Jeff Brickman said in a statement released Monday. “We’re reinvesting in and renewing our cancer program to keep that care close to home.”

The hospital system hopes to draw patients who live near its hospitals — CMMC, Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital — but who may have chosen to receive cancer treatment somewhere else.

“We know some of our patients are going elsewhere and they’re driving long distances for care that we should as a community-based hospital be providing and we will be providing,” Anderegg, said.

The new center would put radiation oncology and medical oncology under one roof. Both are on CMMC’s campus but are “almost at the farthest points apart on the campus that we could have put them, unfortunately,” Anderegg said.

“It will make a huge difference for patients who receive care from both specialists or who go back and forth for treatment,” he said. “It’ll help people a lot.”

The cancer center would also include new equipment for imaging and treatment.

Because of its size and cost, the proposed cancer center will require Certificate of Need approval from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. CMHC hopes to submit its full Certificate of Need application in a month. It is unclear how long the application process will take, but CMHC leaders hope to have the project complete in 18 to 24 months.

While CMHC has had significant financial problems in recent years, system leaders say CMHC’s finances have greatly improved and continue to do so. The project would cost $35 million, but about two-thirds of that would go toward constructing the building and would be paid for by a developer. The remaining one-third would pay for equipment.

CMHC owns the property where the center would be located. Plans call for the hospital to lease that land to a developer and for that developer to bear the cost of building the facility. CMHC would then pay to lease the building long term.

The proposed location is an employee parking lot. CMHC officials said they plan to move that parking to another area on the hospital campus.

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