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Maine Behavioral Healthcare Breaks Ground on Cutting Edge Autism and Developmental Disorders Treatment Facility in Westbrook

June 03, 2020


Virtual Celebration Agenda
June 17, Noon-1

• Wendi O’Donovan, Campaign Co-Chair and parent of autistic adult
• Dr. Matthew Siegel, VP of Medical Affairs for Autism and Developmental Disorders
• Rich Petersen, President of MaineHealth
• Michelle Zichella, VP Development at Maine Behavioral Healthcare
• Nancy Pond, Campaign Co-Chair
• Q & A
Contact: Valerie Compagna, 207-699-7178


WESTBROOK, MAINE – Maine Behavioral Healthcare has broken ground on a 28,000 square foot treatment, training and research facility located on the grounds of Spring Harbor Hospital. The project is a $14.7 million, state-of-the-art facility created to meet the growing needs of Maine families and individuals with a diagnosis of autism and other developmental disorders.

MaineHealth, Maine Behavioral Healthcare’s parent organization, is providing half of the funds to the project, and a capital campaign has raised over $5.2 million from the community toward the other half, leaving a total of $2.1 million to be raised over the coming year.

The project is led by Maine Behavioral Healthcare’s Vice President of Medical Affairs for Autism and Developmental Disorders Dr. Matthew Siegel, who is a nationally recognized expert in building programs to treat the emotional and behavioral challenges of this population. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 54 children have autism and approximately one in six children in the United States had a developmental disability, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and autism.

Treatment centers in Maine for these individuals and their families are scarce, as they require dedicated teams of professionals with training and experience with the population. In years past, many families have had to travel to Boston to access services.

“Our vision is to provide Maine people with access to a lifespan-oriented, full-service integrated treatment, research, and training center that will not only meet the needs of Maine families, but it will also generate new treatment models, and advance autism science for the benefit of all,” said Siegel. “We have reached the capacity of our current outpatient facility (in South Portland) and are well positioned to take the next steps in this exciting journey, which promises to benefit countless individuals and their families.”

Wendi O’Donovan of Falmouth, Maine serves as co-chair of the Center’s capital campaign committee and knows firsthand what it’s like to live with a child with autism. In 2016 her son was among the first graduating class from Maine Behavioral Healthcare’s Center of Autism and Developmental Disorders (CADD) in South Portland so she knows how difficult it can be to find evidence based services that meet the unique needs of adults like her son.

“I want my son to be able to continue the great strides he made at CADD but there are simply no options in this region,” O’Donovan stated. “These kids and young adults are able to thrive with the right type of care, so I want everyone to know how vital these services are and how much they mean to families like mine.”

The campaign to build the new Center of Excellence has received broad community support with over 100 individuals, foundations and corporations stepping forward with significant gifts. Campaign co-chair Nancy Pond of Cape Elizabeth, Maine is a staunch advocate of the program.

Pond stated, "This is a tale of how Dr. Matthew Siegel and his remarkable team stepped forward to present a compelling case for a new and expanded services program for families. It's a story of thanks to friends in Maine, New Hampshire and other New England states who stepped up. Families in New York and other regions combined friendships with foundations for support and with the unwavering commitment of Maine Health Leadership we're getting close to realizing our financial goals. We're excited and recognize that this is truly an extended community effort with an invitation for you to join the efforts and be part of this good news story.”

The new Center of Excellence is also guided by a community advisory council, composed of parents, providers, policy makers and advocates who support and inform the direction of the Center. Council member Cathy Dionne, who is also the President of the Autism Society of Maine (ASM), noted, “Expanding children services for autism is needed in our state and having services for adults with autism is exciting as that is very limited. Our children do grow up, they need professionals who understand autism and can provide a service into their adulthood. ASM looks forward to our ongoing partnership with Maine Behavioral Healthcare.”

Scheduled to open in summer 2021, the project aims to bring a whole new level of care, research and provider training to Maine. A virtual celebration on June 17 at Noon -1 p.m. will be held to provide information on the programs and services of the new Center and recognize the many individuals who have brought us to this point. Along with Siegel, Pond and O’Donovan, speakers will also include MaineHealth President Rich Petersen.

“MaineHealth is incredibly proud to support this effort and of the strides we have made to provide care for this vulnerable population,” said Petersen. “While we would ordinarily hold an in person groundbreaking ceremony, during this period of the COVID pandemic we will adhere to the social distancing guidelines as set forth by the state and CDC to maintain the health and safety of our community. Regardless, there is much to celebrate as we look forward to opening the new center next year.”

To attend the June 17 virtual celebration at Noon register at

About the Capital Campaign
Launched in March 2019, the campaign supports the transformation of Maine Behavioral Healthcare’s current Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders into a full lifespan integrated treatment, research and training facility. The campaign has raised over $5.2 million toward the $7.35 million goal. A volunteer campaign cabinet of community members is leading this effort, including honorary chairs Judy and Leonard Lauder, and Campaign Co-Chairs Wendi O’Donovan and Nancy Pond.
Learn more at

About Maine Behavioral Healthcare
Maine Behavioral Healthcare is a leading provider of mental health services, with over 30 outpatient locations throughout southern, western and mid-coast Maine, as well as Spring Harbor Hospital, providing an integrated continuum of comprehensive, coordinated behavioral healthcare for Maine residents of all ages.
Learn more at

About MaineHealth
MaineHealth is a not-for-profit integrated health system consisting of nine local hospital systems, a comprehensive behavioral healthcare network, diagnostic services, home health agencies, and more than 1,700 employed and independent physicians working together through an Accountable Care Organization. With close to 22,000 employees, MaineHealth is the largest health system in northern New England and provides preventive care, diagnosis and treatment to 1.1 million residents in Maine and New Hampshire. It includes Franklin Memorial Hospital/Franklin Community Health Network in Farmington, LincolnHealth in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Maine Behavioral Healthcare in South Portland, MaineHealth Care at Home in Saco, Maine Medical Center in Portland, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H., Mid Coast-Parkview Health in Brunswick, NorDx in Scarborough, Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County Hospital in Rockport and Belfast, Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Sanford, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook and Stephens Memorial Hospital/Western Maine Health Care in Norway. MaineHealth Affiliates include Maine General Health in Augusta and Waterville, New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. It is also a significant stakeholder in the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization in Portland.


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