In a race for time, home builders and health officials team up to immunize countless Mainers – Press Herald

31January 2021

The grandstand structure at former Scarborough Downs racetrack is being transitioned to a mass vaccination clinic to be established by

MaineHealth today. Workers convert a big room into a waiting area at the front of the building on Tuesday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Costs Caron made the call on Jan. 8, hoping the business that’s redeveloping the previous Scarborough Downs would let him use the old grandstand building as a mass vaccination site for COVID-19. The 70-year-old structure was rundown and had actually been empty considering that the long-struggling facility permanently ended live harness racing in November. It required a facelift and some major upgrades. However it was ideally located between the Maine Turnpike and Path 1, so it would readily serve residents of Cumberland and York counties and beyond. And it had more than 50,000 square feet of ground-level open floor space and a parking lot built to host as much as 7,000 racing fans.

Caron, CEO of the MaineHealth network that includes Maine Medical Center in Portland, was on a mission to help Maine vaccinate the bulk of its 1.3 million homeowners by summer. He understood, from experience in immunizing MaineMed staff members, that goal would not be satisfied if doses were administered piecemeal through numerous smaller companies.

Crossroads Holdings, the company that’s redeveloping the 524-acre Downs home into real estate, an organization park and a town center, accepted Caron’s obstacle.

In a handshake offer, Peter Michaud and the other owners consented to renovate the building at cost and let MaineHealth run a vaccination clinic there rent-free for six months. Longer if required.

“Everybody rallied around this cause,” said Billy Risbara, a Crossroads Holdings partner who managed the task. “In the last few days, crews have actually been shaking my hand and informing me, ‘Thank you for letting me belong of this.’ “

Now, less than a month after Caron made the very first call to Michaud, MaineHealth is arranged to open the center on Tuesday in a structure that has undergone nearly $1 million in restorations and is ready to inoculate 1,700 individuals per day as quickly as the vaccine supply allows it. Caron isn’t surprised that Michaud and Risbara got it done, however he is amazed with how well they did it.

“There’s a distinction between saying ‘I’ll assist’ and stating ‘I’m all in and I’m going to do whatever I can,'” Caron said. “Which’s simply the method Peter responded to me. I wasn’t amazed that he felt the requirement to do everything he could, however he’s gone beyond that.”

Risbara went to a smaller vaccination clinic that MaineHealth opened last week in Westbrook to see for himself what sort of setup would be required and adjusted plans for the Downs website appropriately. “He invested sufficient time to find out how it actually worked,” Caron stated. “There aren’t lots of specialists that do that.”

< a href=""data-caption= "A MaineHealth registered nurse loads empty syringes into plastic boxes at one of many vaccination stations within the grandstand at the former Scarborough Downs center. Ben McCanna/Staff Professional Photographer

“> A MaineHealth registered nurse loads empty syringes into plastic boxes at one of many vaccination stations within the grandstand at the previous Scarborough Downs center. Ben McCanna/Staff Professional Photographer The Downs is among several mass vaccination sites opening across Maine as the Biden administration assures to increase vaccine supply beyond the trickle that’s been available since December. It’s an apt area in what public health officials say has ended up being a race to remain ahead of more contagious COVID-19 versions that are emerging around the globe and increasing the death toll. MaineHealth’s website in Westbrook can vaccinate 700 daily; Northern Light Health is set to open a center Tuesday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor that can immunize as lots of as 2,000 each day; and other websites are prepared in Portland, Brunswick and on Maine Neighborhood College System campuses in Fairfield, Bangor and Presque Isle.

Caron and his management team have not rather found out how MaineHealth will staff and pay for the center at the Downs for months to come. He’s hoping to be repaid as Biden continues with plans to open to 100 mass vaccination centers throughout the country and enable state and local governments to get higher reimbursements for vaccine administration expenses through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.

He’s likewise looking to service and civic leaders to supply reinforcements for the small army of volunteers who have actually currently stepped forward. The center will need 100 people on website continuously to run at full capacity 12 hours each day, consisting of registrars, vaccinators and observers. Some MaineHealth staff members will be redeployed from other responsibilities, contributing to an estimated cost of $50 per shot to operate the clinic.

Confronted with a state public health system that was gutted by previous Gov. Paul LePage, and an “interim draft” COVID-19 vaccination plan that’s brief on details about how the vaccine will be administered throughout the state, the Maine Center for Illness Control and Avoidance has actually sought to medical facilities to fill deep space, with help from the Maine Emergency Management Firm and the Maine Army National Guard.

MaineHealth IT service technician Scott McCutcheon prepares to establish computer displays at vaccination stations throughout the grandstand at the former Scarborough Downs center. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer “In defense of the folks at the state, they’ve been under water for months now, dealing with COVID screening, contact tracing, getting us the materials we need,”Caron said.”It’s been an obstacle, however I believe the state has actually done an extraordinary job with the resources they have. Since what little public health system we had as a state was

basically dismantled by the previous administration and we sadly didn’t have a chance to restore it before COVID hit.

“EARLY RETURN FROM FLORIDA Peter Michaud answered Caron’s call from his winter season home in Marco Island, Florida, where he works remotely on tasks back in Maine. He immediately called Billy Risbara, who likewise lives and works remotely on Marco Island.

“I hung up and called Billy,” Michaud stated. “I knew I couldn’t do this without him.”

Crossroads Holdings is comprised of Billy, Rocco and Marc Risbara, and Peter and Richard Michaud, lifelong good friends and Scarborough locals who bought the Downs in January 2018 for $6.7 million. The Michauds formerly owned Michaud Distributors, a Northeast regional treat shipment business. Risbara Bros. Construction has actually constructed various property and commercial jobs over the last 5 decades. And together, the Risbaras and Michauds run Maine Residence, which owns and manages real estate throughout Greater Portland.

Peter Michaud and Billy Risbara weren’t due back in Maine for 3 months.

The grandstand building at previous Scarborough Downs Racetrack is being transitioned to a mass vaccination center to be set up by MaineHealth later on today. Employees transform a big space into a waiting area at the front of the building on Tuesday. Derek Davis The following Monday, Jan. 11, they flew into Portland, passed their COVID-19 tests and

met MaineHealth personnel the next day at the grandstand building. Within hours, they had actually lined up professionals and suppliers to get the task rolling. They rattle off square footage of roofing and floor covering changed as if it were benefit gained on a battleground.”This is a war on a virus, “Michaud confesses. “We acknowledge that up until we get vaccination well in progress, we can’t get Maine back up on

its feet. And as long as Maine people can’t get back on their feet, the whole state is at threat financially and socially.”With Mancini Electric in the lead, contractors worked together to set up 12 miles of brand-new electrical and data wiring, 20,000 square feet of rubber roofing and 7,000 square feet of floor covering. Employees wearing masks replaced 4,500 ceiling tiles, polished 33,000 square feet of concrete flooring, and fixed and waterproofed 600 direct feet of windows overlooking the racetrack. And they set up 200 brand-new LED lights and upgraded 200 existing fluorescent fixtures.

Every wall got a fresh coat of paint, bathrooms were gutted and rebuilt, the entire first flooring was sterilized and 12 gas-fired heating systems were hung from the ceiling. The units were fitted with ionizers that neutralize allergens and contaminants in the air and coolant coils so they can offer a/c this summer if essential.

“Pine State Provider had the heat on in six days,” Risbara said. An air filtration system was considered unneeded due to the fact that the uninsulated structure is so breezy and the primary rooms are so big.

Lots of professionals went out of their method to get things performed in short order. Huttig Building Products closed down a production line and produced 12 customized wood doors in one afternoon. Spending plan Blinds measured, purchased and set up blinds across the building’s huge wall of windows within a few days. And Maine Roof drove to New Hampshire to get rolled rubber roof that’s one of numerous hard-to-find structure products during the pandemic.

The grandstand building at former Scarborough Downs Racetrack is being transitioned to a

mass vaccination center to be set up by MaineHealth later today. At the demand of MaineHealth, developers have left some of the historic features of the racetrack. Derek Davis/Staff Professional Photographer Bill Darling, owner of Maine Roof, said he’s a friend of the designers and he sees dealing with the center job

as good for company and helpful for Maine.”They’re a great group to deal with and it’s a great project to be associated with, “Darling said. “But it’s personal, too. My mother remains in her late 70s and she want to get her shot, and the faster we can get the vaccine out to everybody, the much better. “Crossroads Holdings is dedicated for the long run to helping Maine satisfy its vaccination goals, Michaud said. As developers, they’re utilized to deadlines with high stakes. They worked out a tax deal with the town of Scarborough that would compensate as much as $ 81 million in real estate tax over 3 decades if they are successful in developing $ 615 million in new evaluated value at the Downs

in 20 years. They’re on track to please that goal within a couple of years, with more than 250 apartments, condominiums, single-family homes and light industrial structures already completed or under building and construction. So, hosting a vaccination center in the grandstand structure for the bulk of 2021 is a modest effort.

“We’re devoted,” Michaud said. “We don’t understand what we’re going to finish with this building or what this implies for the remainder of the Downs, but we’re dedicated.”


Initially, individuals driving to the Downs vaccination center will be restricted to the Payne Roadway entryway, which is just north of Cabela’s and Exit 42 of the Maine Turnpike. Gain access to from the Path 1 entryway won’t be offered until a couple of utility poles are moved to allow safe traffic flow, likely by mid-April, Michaud stated. Signs will be posted at the entryways to direct traffic.

MaineHealth IT professional Lou Dugal prepares to set up computers at vaccination stations throughout the grandstand at the previous Scarborough Downs facility. The healthcare network and the developers of the Downs have been working for two weeks

to renovate the structure and set up a COVID vaccine clinic that’s anticipated to open next week to vaccinate a conservative quote of 1,000 individuals daily when the vaccine gets streaming. Ben McCanna/Staff Professional Photographer There are 280 striped parking spaces, including 27 handicapped spaces, and room for 250 extra spaces, if required. Security will be coordinated by the Maine Emergency Management Firm and the Maine National Guard, Caron stated. The town needed MaineHealth to

get a mass gathering permit to resolve perennial concerns about parking, traffic and security, stated Town Supervisor Tom Hall. The Town Council held a special meeting last week to consider the authorization, which was approved unanimously.”I am not aware of any opposition to (the center),” Hall stated.” To a person, everyone I have talked with sees this as extremely positive for our community and our country. We are happy to do our part in this essential around the world effort.”

The clinic is established so people will go into the grandstand structure through one door, move through the vaccination process, and exit through a separate door. Patients will queue up in a 10,000-square-foot previous betting parlor simply inside the primary entryway, where they will submit necessary permission kinds.

From there, they will be ushered through a check-in area and directed to among 24 vaccination stations outfitted with computers throughout the 33,000 square foot main space, where racing fans when lined up to put wagers at the wagering counter.

Then they will move to the observation location, where 80 chairs are spaced 6 feet apart to enable physical distancing under COVID-19 safety procedures. Staff will observe clients for adverse reactions for 15 to thirty minutes after shot, with epinephrine auto-injection pens and medical personnel ready to address any medical issues.

The grandstand building at previous Scarborough Downs Racetrack is being transitioned to a mass vaccination clinic to be set up by MaineHealth later today. A booth in the main space has actually been converted to function as a drug store and materials area. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Clients will have a look at the betting counter and schedule the required booster shot, to be administered three weeks later on at the Downs center, then exit the structure. The Winners Circle Lounge was transformed into a break room for center personnel and volunteers. And some harness racing decoration has actually been preserved, consisting of murals of horses and 2 concession stands that have been transformed into pharmacies, where vaccine will be stored and dispersed to vaccinators as required.

“We tried to leave some pieces of the structure intact so we have some history visible as people are vaccinated,” said Carol Hughes, job manager for Maine Medical Partners.


Ultimately, MaineHealth plans to operate the center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, with want to regularly vaccinate 1,500 people each day and perhaps bending up near 2,000 vaccinations daily.

To start, however, Tuesday is a gown practice session, immunizing MaineHealth workers, stated Monica Russo, vice president of practice operations for Maine Medical Partners.

The first public vaccination day will be Wednesday, beginning at 1 p.m., when 114 individuals are set up to be inoculated; 345 people each are set up to be vaccinated Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Consultations are being scheduled just a week ahead of time until vaccine allowances are known for the following week.

Getting enough vaccine is Costs Caron’s main concern as the clinic prepares to open. He’s likewise worried about discovering adequate volunteers to staff it full time and handling neighborhood expectations as vaccinations ramp up. If they increase.

It’s likely to grow more complicated as the Maine CDC continues to focus on additional groups for vaccination, beyond the healthcare employees, long-term care locals and individuals age 70 and older who have actually currently been tapped.

“This is going to take a long time,” Caron stated. “If this was a world of endless supply, this would be 100 times easier. We would get this done. However it’s going to be limited supply for the better part of six months. And at any time you limit supply when individuals desire something, it just becomes a difficult balancing act.”

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