An emergency room at Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor. MDI Hospital has become one of a few in the state that offer opioid withdrawal medication to emergency room patients. Credit: Courtesy of MDI hospital

Mount Desert Island Hospital in downtown Bar Harbor is planning a major $13 million renovation of its campus that will include tripling the size of its emergency department and creating a new main entrance directly off Main Street.

The hospital has yet to obtain a certificate of need from the state, which is required for hospital capital improvement projects in Maine, so it’s not clear when the work will begin. The hospital has to raise funds for the project and get building permits from the town as well, according to Chrissi Maguire, CEO of the hospital.

“Funding will be key to that,” she told the elected town council on Tuesday. “This is a 3 to 5 year project. This is a major rebuild while we stay in operations.”

Outside the hospital building, the most visible changes would be the removal of six buildings between Main Street and the main hospital building, which is east of Main Street between Wayman Lane and Hancock Street.

A new main entrance to the building would be built on the west side of the building, facing Main Street, and new travel lanes for vehicle traffic would allow cars and trucks to come and go from the hospital directly via Main Street. Stanwood Place, a narrow street that currently connects Main Street to the hospital campus, would be replaced with green space and parking, Maguire said.

Many cars and trucks currently get to and from the hospital from either Wayman Lane or by Hancock Street, which are primarily residential streets, and many people use the hospital’s ER on the east side of the building as a regular entrance to get inside the building, Maguire said. Redesigning vehicle and pedestrian access on the western side of the building will reduce people who come and go via the side streets and through the ER, she said.

“We do need to improve accessibility to the hospital,” Maguire said. “We know we need to increase parking. We know green space is important.”

Inside the main building, the hospital plans to triple the size of its emergency department, and to renovate its surgical suite and administrative offices. Much of the hospital’s existing footprint will not change, and the building’s exterior design aesthetic of brick with white trim will not change, she said.

She also said the hospital plans a major overhaul to its utilities, much of which has not been  updated since its existing wings were built in 1937 and 1962.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....