Concerned members of the community attending Mid Coast Hospital’s forumby Chris Chase
Coastal Journal staff
Mid Coast Hospital held an informational meeting on Monday to discuss the ongoing concerns that have arisen from the current conflict involving Parkview Adventist Medical Center, Mid Coast, and Central Maine Healthcare Corporation (CMHC).
The meeting, which was attended by over 100 people, was led by Lois Skillings, the CEO for Mid Coast Hospital, and involved both an informative lecture and a question and answer session held with various officials at the hospital and members of the board of directors.
“I wish we weren’t here,” said Skillings, “because frankly I wish we didn’t have to have this conflict in our community.”
The conflict is the ongoing competition between CMHC and Mid Coast in regards to Parkview’s future. Currently, as previously written about in the Coastal Journal, CMHC is aiming to acquire Parkview. Mid Coast opposes this prospect and wants to merge with Parkview themselves, a move that according to Mid Coast will save the area over $24 million a year.
That $24 million was the subject of questioning from the audience, who wondered where that number could come from. The board and Skillings asserted that the elimination of duplicated services would serve to save that sum of money.
John Morse addresses the crowdSome audience members were highly skeptical of Mid Coast’s role in the entire conflict between the three organizations. Linda Cronkhite, a local resident and registered nurse, was particularly tired of the conflict and the negative effect it was having on the community.
“I don’t like this conflict,” said Cronkhite. “Everywhere I go we hear this conflict.”
Cronkhite referenced the previous issue involving maternity beds that had started the rocky relationship between Parkview and Mid Coast, an issue touched upon previously in the Coastal Journal’s coverage of the conflict. After Mid Coast’s actions, Cronkhite feels Parkview is well within reason to avoid partnership with Mid Coast.
“Why would Parkview ever want to trust Mid Coast again?” said Cronkhite.
Other members of the audience were also skeptical of the benefits of merging Mid Coast and Parkview. Patty McGovern, a long time nurse in the area, feels that the merger would eliminate choice in the area.
“I think choice is the most important thing,” said McGovern. “Without choice, where are we?”
Many expressed doubts that a merger between the two hospitals could preserve Parkview as a separate entity. The fear is that if Mid Coast takes over, the original mission and staff of Parkview would be lost inside the larger organization.
John Farnum, a member of the Mid Coast Health services board of directors and a past hospice member, disputed that claim that the organization would swallow Parkview.
According to Farnum, Hospice in the past had been a smaller separate organization, and it too had been taken up by Mid Coast after financial concerns arose, much in a manner like the current conflict between Parkview and Mid Coast. Farnum assured that the process was much more positive than he had initially thought and that Mid Coast was trustworthy.
“My experience, coming from a very small organization, is quite the opposite,” said Farnum. “The idea of it being a destructive process, could not be further from the truth.”
Although a few members of the audience expressed negative feelings towards the current conflict and to Mid Coast’s stance, the majority supported Mid Coast’s plan, for various reasons.
Don Gerrish, the former Brunswick town manager, cited his experience with the health care industry and told people that the idea of maintaining choice was going to be a thing of the past, and that going with the least expensive option was the smartest choice.
“Choice is wonderful, I like choice,” said Gerrish. “But I have to tell you, in the future, choice won’t be available.”
Beverly Waterman, a nurse for 30 years at Parkview and a Seventh-Day Adventist, says she has been greatly disappointed in Parkview’s handling of the issue and is afraid that the original mission of the church has been lost.
“A few years ago things changed,” said Waterman. “The last few years there was this feeling that they [Mid Coast] were the enemy.”
Waterman also felt regret Parkview’s executives, who are actually employed by CMHC, refused to allow Skillings propsal to be heard by the board of directors.
“I have great regrets that the board was never allowed to hear her,” said Waterman.
Waterman was also appalled by the half-page ad that Parkview recently took out against a partnership with Mid Coast. The advertisement features strong language coming down against a partnership between the two hospitals.
“That is not an ad that should be put out by our church,” said Waterman.
Other members of both the Seventh-Day Adventist church and past employees of Parkview expressed support for Mid Coast, feeling that a CMHC takeover would lead to the hospital losing its original mission.
Gregory Gimbel, an obstetrician who has family members that participated in the founding of Parkview, believes strongly in Mid Coast partnering with Parkview.
“Absolutely the Mid Coast vision,” said Gimbel. “It’s the only way that anything that’s left of Parkview can be preserved.”
Even though the comments were occasionally heated for both sides of the argument, Mid Coast was very satisfied with the meeting, according to Steve Trockman, director of community relations and outreach for Mid Coast.
“What we really wanted to do was finally have a community discussion about this,” said Trockman.
All of the staff overwhelmingly urge anyone with an interest in the issue to attend the public hearing on Oct. 24 at the Brunswick Knights of Columbus. The hearing will be about the current Certificate of Need submitted by CMHC for acquiring Parkview. According to Skillings, the state welcomes and listens to all community input, and they urge anyone with interest to attend or at least voice their opinion about it through other means.