BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Leaders in the area are pressing forward with plans to get new use out of empty space at the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center. It’s a plan that city officials in Bangor say could help preserve the hospital’s future.
The psychiatric center has had to endure a number of budget cuts from the state over the years. At one point Maine health officials considered closing the hospital down.
Since last year regional leaders have been working against that idea. Their plan is to take 100,000 square feet of vacant space at Dorothea Dix and turn it into transitional housing for the chronically ill. Officials say that would help bring revenue into the hospital and at the same time keep mentally ill patients out of the county jail and homeless shelters.
City leaders say in many cases patients are leaving Dorothea Dix with no place to support their care.
“Patients are staying 60 days more than necessary because there’s not adequate housing for them that’s immediately available,” said Bangor city councilor Joe Baldacci who is also co-chair of the Dorothea Dix advisory committee, “so if we can address the housing issue then we can help people transition to less restrictive alternatives but not be homeless and walking on the streets.”
“As a sheriff I strongly support their efforts and the state’s willingness to restructure the law so that Dorothea Dix can be used for transitional housing for mentally ill,” said Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross.
Last June the Maine legislature backed a resolve in support of the housing idea. City officials say they’re now working on an official proposal to present to the state. They hope to have it submitted by late September.