NORWAY — Construction began in September of 2019. It was completed earlier this month. Move-in day came on Oct. 16. And on Oct. 20, after a morning ceremony to officially thank the Bahre family, the Bob & Sandy Bahre Health Center officially opened to patients.
Employees of Western Maine Health’s Physical Rehabilitation Department gathered to personally thank Sandy Bahre and her son Gary for the family’s years of support for Stephens Memorial Hospital and for the friendships they shared with Bob Bahre, who passed away last July.
“This is a special day. This is a wonderful family,” said Rich Peterson, MaineHealth president, who made the drive from Portland to participate. “They have done so much for this community and they know the work that you all have done has made such a difference and helped Bob and his family out.”
Peterson was visibly moved as he talked about the connection the Bahre family has with Oxford Hills communities.
“Just to see this place today is heartwarming and I am glad to just be a part of it,” he said. “I know Bob’s looking down. And I don’t think he’s completely happy. Because you know Bob, he does not like attention. But I think this is one of those times when he would really appreciate it. So, thank you, Bahre family.”
SMH’s Director of Physical Rehabilitation Lissa Merrill echoed Peterson’s remarks, addressing Sandy and Gary Bahre.
“We developed a very close relationship with Bob and your family while he was with us here for several years,” she said. “In that time we learned to banter with him. And answer constant questions about business, our families and everyone here. He was curious about how we helped people with rehab. We became part of his regular routine and therefore became very close to him.
“Bob was kind and always for the right reasons, and not for recognition. I agree with Rich, he would be a little skeptical of this. But I hope that he and his family know that it is a tribute to the many years of his support to this hospital and it’s a tribute to every town in the Oxford Hills community who we serve and who the Bahres have helped privately in many, many way.”
Andrea Patstone, president of WMH, said the Bahre Health Center is a prime example of how WMH benefits from its relationship with MaineHealth, with the support of community partners like the Bahre family.
“The health system has made this possible. Construction began last year in September. It took a solid year and it was done on time and on budget,” Patstone said. “We were fortunate to have timed this so that our progress was not affected by the pandemic.”
WMH’s Physical Therapy Department, which has a team of about 40, is located on the first floor of the center. Outpatient rehabilitation services include speech, occupational and physical therapy for children and adults alike. New equipment gives patients the option to received treatments previously unavailable in Oxford Hills, like ceiling-mounted lifts that will assist in therapies for standing and relearning to walk.
The second floor is home to a clinic with visiting specialists from Portland and Lewiston focused on urology, ear/nose/throat, oncology and cardiology services.
“This saves MWH patients from having to travel for treatment,” Patsone said. “We will be able to serve people throughout Oxford Hills here. It’s convenient for patients. And certainly, if they need a higher level of care than we provide at SMH, we have shared clinical records and shared referral relationships with the visiting providers.”
According to Merrill, the new space was designed with room to allow more staffing and better patient access for faster appointments. It includes space for patient privacy, specialized exercise equipment and also rooms specific to patient needs like Parkinson’s Disease and other conditions.
The Bob & Sandy Bahre Health Center will have about 65 people working at the facility day-to-day, and be able to accommodate about 100 patients a day.