In this May 22, 2018, file photo, PEN literary service award recipient Stephen King attends the 2018 PEN Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Stephen and Tabitha King’s foundation has donated $1 million to support the construction of a new pediatric wing and renovations at Northern Light Acadia Hospital in Bangor, one of Maine’s two private psychiatric hospitals.

The psychiatric hospital has been planning a new pediatric wing and the renovation of current spaces so all 100 of its beds will be in private, single-occupancy rooms. The project aims to  address a growing need for psychiatric care that has become more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gift from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, announced Tuesday, will also improve the hospital’s outpatient pediatric services, support the expansion of its geriatric treatment and research program, and go toward the development of an in-demand workforce to provide psychiatric and behavioral health care, according to Northern Light.

“We are well aware that there are many children and adolescents who desperately need access to residential programs and services,” said Stephen and Tabitha King, who have supported a number of other construction projects around Bangor over the years, including the renovation and expansion of the Bangor Public Library, in a joint statement.

The hospital broke ground on a new two-story facility on its existing Stillwater Avenue campus in April. The new wing will hold 50 single-occupancy rooms with pediatric beds. The construction work at the hospital will also convert all of the hospital’s double-occupancy rooms to single-occupancy rooms, allowing the hospital to make use of all 100 of its beds.

Though it’s licensed for 100 beds, Northern Light has said it can’t use all its beds because it’s unsafe to place many patients together in the same room. The expansion will allow the hospital to use all 100 beds safely.

The project is estimated to cost more than $49 million, $14 million more than first expected due to steep increases to the cost of labor and building materials.

The expansion will help ensure that more of the dozens of patients awaiting psychiatric care in emergency rooms across the state get the care they need faster, said Acadia president Scott Oxley.

“To know that there are young people in emergency departments across the state waiting for us to have an opening so they can get the help they desperately need is heartbreaking,” Oxley said. “The new pediatric wing at Acadia Hospital will greatly enhance our ability to serve Maine’s most vulnerable population.”

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...