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by Faith DeAmbrose
With word fast spreading about the purchase of two Parker Point Road properties by Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, those attending the hospital’s annual meeting on August 13 learned that there were no immediate plans for facility expansion, but that a master facilities plan is currently being drafted.
The hospital recently added the former Leighton Gallery, at 24 Parker Point Road, and a neighboring property a bit closer to town at 18 Parker Point Road to its holdings, which now stand at roughly 7.6 acres. Both properties sit beside the hospital’s back entrance, have a combined lot size of 1.1 acres and an assessed value of $1,048,300, according to town records. The hospital did not disclose how much it paid for the properties.
The hospital has hired Kristin Anderson of Halsa Advisors in Minnesota to complete the facilities plan, which is expected to be finished by late fall. Anderson spoke about improving functionality and creating a campus that meets the needs of the community while allowing it to be reactive to future growth. “We are thinking long term so that way we are not in trouble later,” said Anderson.
Thinking 20 years out, Anderson said that it is important for the hospital to be a hub for not only healthcare delivery, but for wellness within the communities it serves. Some of the key areas of focus centered on the “development of strong, locally delivered outpatient service; continued provision of inpatient hospital-based care, with greater emphasis on patient privacy and family amenities than exist on the existing facilities; greater role in the community in the promotion of health; strong linkages to Eastern Maine Medical Center programs and specialties for complex care such as critical care, trauma and complex surgical/medical conditions; a physical and operational environment that supports and enables all of the above.”
Speaking to the future, Anderson cited a new ambulatory center, wellness center, improved out-patient cardiac rehab, an upgrade to patient beds, and an expanded emergency department and procedural center as “key proposed long-term projects for” BHMH.
The meeting was also addressed by Eastern Maine Healthcare System’s President and CEO Michelle Hood who spoke about the larger healthcare system, of which BHMH is a part. Calling the future of healthcare and even health insurance “uncertain,” Hood said that most entities in the field are bracing for dramatic change. She said a priority for EMHS is to “fix as much brokenness (in healthcare) as we can” while improving the wellbeing of the community. She spoke about “accountable care” and improving the delivery model at the dozens of EMHS-owned facilities.
Looking to the financial health of the hospital, Chief Financial Officer Ed Olivier said that while BHMH, currently in its third quarter, is approximately $99,000 in debt, it is expected to close its annual fiscal books about $200,000 in the black. He said that in the past year BHMH has hired a cardiologist as well as several new physicians to help “address access problems” in its Blue Hill primary care clinic. It is also working to increase its cash reserves, despite constant underpayment from MaineCare. “We are squirreling cash away so that we can make investments in our people and in the facility because that is what the community deserves,” said Olivier.
In other business outgoing hospital trustees Claire Connor and Judy Thomas were recognized for their service by incoming board president Frank Wanning. Chris Young of Blue Hill was named to the board.