Public Hearing on Calais Nursing Home Draws Big Crowd 

A proposal to close a nursing home in Calais has raised concern with patients and their families.First Atlantic Healthcare wants to shut down the home and expand its facility in Ellsworth.The Department of Health and Human Services had initially approved a certificate of need for the expansion, but now they’re reconsidering.They held a public hearing Thursday to get feedback from local residents, where just about every seat and every corner of a room at Washington County Community College was taken up by someone with a story about the Atlantic Rehabilitation and Nursing Home.”She got used to the facility, used to the nurses and the care people and the facility,” said Robert Higgins, who has an aunt living at the facility.”Finally, after a year, she said I’m happy here, I’m happy with the people, they take good care of me. It would be devastating for her to leave, relocate,” said Higgins.Higgins, along with a line of others, addressed state officials at the hearing.”I’m not reacting to it. We’ll compile it, the administration hearing office will compile it, and will be presenting it to the commissioner,” said Phyllis Powell, an employee of DHHS. Commissioner Mary Mayhew has sixty days to decide whether or not to deny the certificate of need.Officials with First Atlantic Healthcare say their need is great.They say they’re losing more than $80,000 per month because of the Calais home.The company could still go ahead and close the facility, but that could hurt their chances of getting the approval to move ahead in ellsworth.Senate President Kevin Raye said in his testimony that if the certificate is approved, there is no incentive for First Atlantic to continue working toward a solution.For the crowd at the hearing, that wouldn’t resolve anything for them or their families.