Steven Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association (MHA), told members of Waldo County General Hospital’s Community Advisory Council, that over the 26 years he has been with the MHA in different capacities, about one-third of the state’s 39 hospitals face operating losses each year. It’s not the same hospitals every year but still it has averaged out to 12 or 13 who finish the year in the red.
This year, that figure climbed to 24 hospitals and the operating losses were much higher.
But one hospital he has not seen on the “red-ink” list is Waldo County General Hospital. “Your hospital is something special within the State and within the healthcare system,” he said, adding that Mark Biscone, Executive Director of the Hospital, and his administrative team are one of the reasons for the Hospital’s success.
“The Hospital has had a positive bottom line (including non-operating income) for the last 35 years,” added Lee Woodward, President of the Hospital Board of Directors.
That may be much harder to continue, according to Michaud. He said Maine hospitals are facing “a plethora of changes and a rapidly deteriorating environment.” These include a poor rural economy in the state, an aging population (the oldest in the country), and state and federal budgets that are in bad shape.
Currently, 64 percent of the patients at Waldo County General Hospital are on Medicare or Medicaid and the state and federal governments keep cutting the reimbursements for services provided for those patients.
But the biggest problem, according to Michaud, is the decline in patient volume over the last couple of years. He cited the economy and affordability as reasons for the downturn in volume.
He said hospitals “need to live in a new reality,” including working to keep people healthy and doing better at working with those patients with chronic diseases. According to Michaud, the top 5 percent of hospital users in Maine’s Medicaid program cost an average of almost $70,000 per year while the average cost for the lowest 80 percent is $937 per year.
“We need to concentrate our efforts on the top 5 percent,” he said. “We need to manage their care, make sure they are taking their medications and keep them out of the hospital as much as possible.”
And if hospitals do that, there needs to be changes in the payment system with a reward for hospitals that keep patients out of the hospitals and in their homes; otherwise, the hospital volume will drop and they will be punished for “doing the right thing,” he said.
To deal with the issues he listed, along with the uncertainty of Obamamcarethe uncertainty of Obamacare, Michaud said hospitals need to protect what they have and reform “like crazy,” do better with less, and create value in a transparent world. But, he added, government needs to stop cutting the hospitals reimbursements while they are changing. Biscone added that Maine hospitals will lose $80 million per year for 10 years to pay for the subsidies promised by Obamacare.
Michaud said the trade-off was supposed to be that the bad debts and charitable care performed by hospitals would lessen as more people got covered by insurance. “The cuts are for sure and the offset is less sure,” he said.
In other action at the annual Community Advisory Council meeting:
Waldo County General Hospital (WCGH) has a new Chief of Anesthesiology onboard. And in the next few months, we will also add a new leader for our Hospitalist Program, a rheumatologist, and a general surgeon, along with a new provider for the Donald S. Walker Health Center in Liberty.
Dr. Curtis Smith, who currently lives and works as a hospitalist in Lancaster, N.H., will begin overseeing the Hospitalist Program at Waldo County March 1. Prior to moving to New Hampshire, Dr. Smith worked in this area and at one time was on the full time faculty for the Family Practice Residency Program at Eastern Maine Medical Center. He was on the emergency room staff at Waldo County from 2003-2005.
Dr. Sidney Block of Northport, a rheumatologist, will begin practicing here at the first of the year and he will be joined in mid-January by Dr. Shane Lydon of Lincolnville, a general surgeon.
Two Physician Assistants are also joining the staff. Valerie Poulos, PA-C, of Rockport, will be the new provider at the Donald S. Walker Health Center in Liberty. She has been working in emergency medicine at Maine Medical Center in Portland and on a per diem basis at Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta.
Adam Barnard, PA-C, of Belfast, will be working as a hospitalist. He has been working as a physician assistant at the Lovejoy Health Center in Albion since graduating from the Duke University Physician Assistant Program.
The Hospital’s new Chief of Anesthesiology is Dr. Michael Gowesky. He is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and comes to WCGH from Eastern Maine Medical Center and Pen Bay Medical Center.
Lobster Ravioli. Baked sole stuffed with crabmeat and scallop stuffing. Tender sautéed sirloin beef tips in a bourbon infused sauce. Fresh mozzarella & tomato salad with olive oil & fresh basil.
Doesn’t really sound like offerings you’d find at your local hospital, does it?
Many of the new parents, especially those with children at home, realize this may be the last fancy meal they are able to have with each other for a while.
With two boys at home, 8 years old and 22 months, Kristen Leavitt knows there aren’t going to be a lot of quiet, sit down together meals after she and Joe Dorval take newborn Nathan home to Stockton Springs.
That knowledge seems to make Joe and Kristen enjoy their meal even more.
And if tiramisu isn’t your cup of tea, the chocolate indulgence cake and New York style cheesecake with fresh seasonal berries look delicious, too.
The annual Silver Tea, sponsored by the Waldo County General Hospital Aid, was held Dec. 4 at the home of Tom and Alicia Stevenson, 58 Church Street, Belfast. The public enjoyed touring the magnificent home, along with the sandwiches, desserts, punch, coffee and tea served by Aid members from silver services.
The setting was a three-story house built in 1875 for George Pote, a Civil War veteran, who manufactured men’s vests. The house has Italianate influences with a capped decorative portico and bay windows.
The current owners have lived at the house for the past four years and have carefully restored certain rooms and modernized others. Open to be toured were twin parlors, a dining room, sunroom, kitchen, master bedroom and guest room on the first floor. A large map of Belfast from 1855 hangs in the front parlor. The front stairway has the original bannister, dentate-type wall molding and leads to the four bedrooms on the second floor.
A silver bowl located near the entrance for donations contained $2,163 and the raffle of gift cards to local restaurants netted nearly $1,700. All funds realized from the tea will benefit the hospital.
Winners of the Aid’s holiday raffle “Bon Appetit” were Leslie Lavender, Lucy Ledien, Ed Lord, Norma Sweigert, Geary Tibbetts and Judy Warren.
Waldo County Healthcare has re-engaged with our colleagues at MaineHealth, and we are moving forward with our plans to implement SeHR (Shared Electronic Health Record).
Last week we oriented nearly 80 Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) at WCHI. These employees will be providing information on our current workflows to be used during the project Analysis and Design Phase. This phase will likely continue through the end of the year. At the conclusion of the Analysis and Design phase, we will be able to more accurately determine a specific timeframe for going live with SeHR. The Analysis and Design is a critical activity to bringing “One Patient, One Record” online at our Hospital and one that will require a great deal of staff cooperation.
Over the past several months, the MaineHealth SeHR Project Team has been working to stabilize and optimize SeHR and increase customer satisfaction with the system at Maine Medical Center, which will help us with our implementation.
We will be holding SeHR employee informational meetings to update co-workers on the process and to give them an opportunity to ask questions in the classroom on Dec. 18th at 7:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:30 pm. There will also be demonstrations of Epic for providers on the 18th at noon and 5 p.m. Providers will receive invitations.
Let’s Go! Waldo 5-2-1-0 held a recognition dinner recently to “celebrate the accomplishments and contributions to the community” of 48 childcare, school, afterschool and healthcare sites in Waldo County. Of those sites, 31 were designated as sites of distinction and 17 were honored for being well on their way to becoming sites of distinction.
The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce obesity among young people by advocating for children to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day, limiting recreational screen time to 2 hours a day, providing for 1 hour or more of physical activity per day and cutting out all sugary drinks.
In the healthcare field, those receiving awards were Drs. Ben Mailloux, Matt Molison and Steven Wilson, the Donald S. Walker Health Center in Liberty, the Searsport Health Center and the Lincolnville Regional Health Center.
In addition to the awards to sites, Barbara Crowley, RN, a Waldo County General Hospital employee who oversees Let’s Go! Waldo 5-2-1-0, awarded four special awards to those who have gone over and above with the program in each of the four categories. Among the special award winners was Chris Walker, NP, of the Donald Walker Health Center in Liberty.