(From left to right) Bangor City Councilors Clare Davitt, Dan Tremble, Gretchen Schaefer and City Manager Debbie Laurie discuss the city's approach to spending its American Rescue Plan Act dollars during a city council workshop, March 13. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Health clinics will be added to two Bangor middle schools using $500,000 in federal pandemic relief funding from the city.

On Monday, Bangor city councilors unanimously approved giving $500,000 of the city’s remaining $13.3 million in pandemic relief funding to the Bangor School Department to create Penobscot Community Health Care clinics for students at two middle schools.

The $500,000 for the school department was one of four awards given to local organizations, making up the latest wave of federal funding the city has been working to give out over the past few months. Initially, Bangor received more than $20 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, but the city has about $11.6 million left to give, and still more applications for funding to consider in the coming weeks.

The two middle school clinics, which Penobscot Community Health Care will oversee and staff, will be an expansion of the in-school clinic in Bangor High School, which opened in February 2022 and provides mental health appointments to about 50 students per week.  

The high school clinic provided another outlet for students to receive mental and physical health care at a time when roughly 50 Bangor students sat on waitlists for care that could be weeks or months-long, Superintendent James Tager said.

Aside from mental health counseling, the high school clinic can administer immunizations, test for common illnesses like strep throat and ear infections and complete sports physicals students need to participate in some extracurricular activities.

If two middle schools can be renovated to hold a health clinic and PCHC can supply staffing, Debbie Laurie, Bangor city manager, said the clinics could open in the fall of 2024.

Councilors also approved giving $1 million to Habitat for Humanity Greater Bangor to help the organization develop at least six affordable single-family homes, as long as those homes are in Bangor. The money will be used to acquire land for the homes, cover construction costs, and hire a project manager to oversee the development, according to the application.

The Maine Multicultural Center also received $70,700 to fund a full time program manager for one year who will recruit, train and manage volunteers and serve as a case manager. That employee and the volunteers they bring aboard will help ensure immigrants secure transitional housing and services that help them settle in the Bangor area.

Finally, councilors awarded $100,000 to the Christine B Foundation to support the site design and planning phase of a nutritional health facility the foundation is looking to build. The facility would be Maine’s first medical nutritional health facility and aims to address social determinants of health, such as mental health and housing, through access to prescribed healthy foods and oncology dietician counseling across Maine, according to the organization’s application.

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...