ElderCare Network’s Boothbay Green staff and residents have made a smooth transition to other facilities in the network, said President Dr. Allan S. “Chip” Teel. ElderCare notified the three residents and their families Oct. 23 of the Dec. 22 closure. The residents could choose between facilities in Edgecomb, Wiscasset, Damariscotta, Waldoboro or Round Pond.
The locations all had openings due to the risk and logistics of moving people during the pandemic, said Teel. “No one really wanted to move because of COVID. The question was really to do this in an orderly fashion, to talk to families and staff and residents about options … We took a couple months to do it, so it did not feel to me like a crisis. It felt like the transition was done in a very orderly fashion by staff and families.”
Teel said the network’s board of directors has been trying to find support to add more services through renovations of the Kenniston Hill Inn building Boothbay Green had moved onsite when the building was planned to be demolished; however, with no interest in the project, the property which has served over 120 residents over 20 years will go on the market, said Teel. “That is something I do with a heavy heart as … I have lots of special memories of both the staff and residents who were there.”
The network’s financial shortfall grows about $1,000 for every resident on state assistance per month – about $75,000 per year overall. This means the network can only accept so many residents and keep open so many locations as can be fundraised for the difference, said Teel. With about 25% of elders in Maine living on less than $10,000 per year, the problem is growing.
“That's a hard financial reality of what we're dealing with … The demographics in Maine and in Lincoln County aren't changing anytime soon. We’ve got another 30 or 40 years of continued growth of an elderly population and with the average income of over-65 (population) being less than $1,800 per month, it doesn't provide very many options … We're going to have to, as a state and as a community, come up with either the creativity or funds or probably both to provide a whole range of choices for older individuals needing care.”
Teel said ElderCare Network would need two things to reopen Boothbay Green: community interest backed by community partners. “Money and staff,” said Teel. The property needs about $100,000 per year of operational support, about $100,000 to remodel parts of the back of the main building and $250,000 to renovate the Kenniston for other eldercare services.
Teel said the building was left intact with its period features because part of the network’s mission is period authenticity. “So, there are some features that are anything but institutional. The dining we've done there over the years has been family style for the six residents … Our model from day one, was to try to convert New England style homes to this kind of purpose providing common space that is set in the era our residents grew up in.
As a gateway landmark, Boothbay Green can show visitors of the region that the community values the care of its elders, said Teel. “The reality is that the shortfall is not insurmountable, but … we can't provide more service to more people without more financial support to span the difference between what the state pays and what it costs to provide the care.”