Councilor pushes for Belfast DHHS office

By Stephanie Grinnell | Apr 22, 2019
Source: Maine DHHS

Belfast — Councilors unanimously agreed April 16 to authorize a letter to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services seeking a new office within the city limits.

The request has been on the radar of Councilor Neal Harkness for some time, he said. Recently, he consulted with Waldo County’s senator, Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, about the process and she recommended a letter expressing interest in locating a DHHS office in Belfast.

Harkness noted that city residents have to travel to Rockland, Augusta, Bangor or Waterville for DHHS services, which for many is a hardship. As a driver for Waldo CAP, he said that agency alone makes 750 trips to Rockland each month at a cost of $1,500 — enough, Harkness said, to afford office space in Belfast.

“I think the people of this community deserve to get services here,” he said.

The department offers a wide range of health care and social services for all ages.

Councilor Mary Mortier asked about staffing requirements, noting the city should not base its argument on transportation costs alone. Harkness countered that staff already are dealing with Belfast residents and he thought the department could shift workers as needed.

“They already have the staff to deal with these people because they’re already sitting in chairs in Rockland,” he said.

Mayor Samantha Paradis thanked Harkness for bringing the issue to the council.

“It may be more complex than we think,” she said.

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