Blue Hill hospital still unsure of obstetrics unit’s future

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff
Posted March 13, 2009, at 11:19 p.m.

BLUE HILL, Maine — The fate of the obstetrics unit at the Blue Hill Memorial Hospital remained up in the air Thursday despite meetings between the OB staff and administrators.

Dr. Erik Steele, interim administrator at the hospital, met twice Wednesday with the OB staff. Although the administration is willing to try to save the OB unit, a hospital spokesperson said that action would have to be done in the context of the entire hospital budget for the coming year and would involve some conditions.

According to Kim Goff, director of development at the hospital, Steele is considering using anticipated MaineCare payments coming from federal stimulus funds along with money contributed through local fundraising efforts to save the unit.

The OB unit, with community support, has raised more than $150,000 in an effort to save the department. Steele previously indicated it would take $600,000 to keep the OB unit open for another year.

“We want to try to save the OB department,” Goff said, “but there will be some conditions.”

Goff did not discuss what those conditions might be, but said the OB staff was reviewing them and will meet again with Steele today. A decision on the unit could come after that meeting.

The decision to eliminate the OB unit was part of an ongoing effort to reduce operating costs.

Steele took charge in December after a high-level shakeup, which saw two top administrators leave the hospital. In January, the hospital cut 34 positions throughout the hospital and laid off 15 employees, about 5 percent of the hospital’s work force of 347 people.

Those cuts spared the OB unit, which includes seven employees, both full- and part-time. But the decision to eliminate the department came in February as administrators struggled to develop a break-even budget for the coming year that begins April 1.

rhewitt@bangordailynews.net

667-9394

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/03/13/news/blue-hill-hospital-still-unsure-of-obstetrics-unitrsquos-future-2/ printed on August 23, 2014