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Bringing the Best Care to Maine: Maine Behavioral Healthcare enters final construction phase of World Class Autism and Developmental Disorders Treatment Facility

April 01, 2021

Interior of construction siteSOUTH PORTLAND, MAINE – In a bold move to expand and elevate care for the more than 40,000 Maine children and adults with autism or another developmental disorder, Maine Behavioral Healthcare (MBH), part of the MaineHealth system of care, will open a Center of Excellence this August. Construction of the 28,000 square foot facility began last year on the campus of Spring Harbor Hospital at a cost of nearly $15 million.

Given a shortage of options in Maine and New England, the investment is well worth the cost for what it will mean to families needing services.

“Families are suffering,” stated Nancy Pond, co-chair of the Center’s capital campaign cabinet. “This Center of Excellence will be the first comprehensive site in Maine and the Northern New England region offering lifespan care for children, adults and their families in our programs.”
Exterior of construction site
The state-of-the-art Center will include child and adult outpatient clinics; preschool and early intervention in-home services; child day treatment; and child and adult intensive outpatient treatment programs, paired with clinical research and provider training.

For project lead, Vice President of Medical Affairs for Autism and Developmental Disorders, Dr. Matthew Siegel, the vision for people with developmental disabilities is clear. “They don’t just deserve care – they deserve the best care. And the way to provide that is with an integrated treatment, research and training center.”

That vision is rapidly becoming a reality.

Exterior of construction siteThe building is designed to provide the best therapeutic environment for the population, complete with sound dampening systems to maximize comfort, an indoor gym, special nooks and cubbies to provide quiet retreats, visual communication supports, and natural and controlled lighting that can be adjusted to meet sensory needs. A life skills room will include opportunities to practice critical life experiences, including a grocery checkout area, blood draw, barber and dental chairs.

Advanced technologies, including state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies, turn classrooms and clinic spaces into living laboratories, where individuals can participate in innovative research during the course of their regular treatment activities. A dedicated lab space, for blood draws, EKG’s and medical exams, with appropriate visual and behavioral supports, allows individuals to practice and master the essential skills of tolerating minor medical procedures. Outdoor spaces include playgrounds adapted to accommodate varying developmental levels. Finally, care team members have a dedicated break space with a kitchen, learning library, private mother’s room for lactating mothers, outdoor patio and a training and conference room in order to maintain their skills and energy.

As the Center opening in August draws closer, the need to raise the final funds necessary becomes even more critical.

“I am so proud to be part of the MaineHealth system that recognized the need to invest in this project and amazed at the community’s response to lend support,” said MBH President Kelly Barton. “Our capital campaign cabinet and staff have been tireless in their efforts to spread the word and help ensure we meet our fundraising goal.”

The capital campaign is raising half of the projected total cost of $14.7 million, with the other half provided by MaineHealth. More than 250 donors have contributed over $6.65 million to date, leaving just under $700,000 more to raise to complete the project. A campaign video that provides further insight can be viewed 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 $6.65 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.

News from Around MaineHealth

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Goldsmith and Soucy Lead Bricks of Opportunity Campaign
Thanks to Glickman Lauder Center of Excellence campaign cabinet members Tami Goldsmith and Erin Soucy, friends of Maine Behavioral Healthcare have an enduring way to express their generosity
Maine Behavioral Healthcare Physician Chosen to Serve on Board Overseeing National Policy on Autism Spectrum Disorders
Dr. Matthew Siegel, who has positioned MBH as a leader in treating those impacted by autism and developmental disorders, will provide clinical guidance on research, services and policy at the federal level.
Bringing the Best Care to Maine: Maine Behavioral Healthcare enters final construction phase of World Class Autism and Developmental Disorders Treatment Facility
The new Center of Excellence in Autism and Developmental Disorders is on track to open in August with a continuum of services to serve toddlers to adults.
Maine Behavioral Healthcare Breaks Ground on Cutting Edge Autism and Developmental Disorders Treatment Facility in Westbrook
A virtual celebration will take place on June 17 at noon to launch the construction of the Center of Excellence in Autism and Developmental Disorders.
MMCRI Researcher To Study Why Therapeutic Horseback Riding Benefits Children With Autism
The research, being done in conjunction with The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, is funded by a $2.5 million grant from National Institutes of Health.