Sebasticook Valley Hospital president to retire

Posted Jan. 26, 2010, at 10:16 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Sebasticook Valley Hospital President and CEO John C. “Jack” May will retire after more than 10 years of service, the hospital announced Tuesday.

May, 66, said his last day on the job is scheduled to be May 14 and that his replacement will be hired well before that to ensure a smooth transition.

“We’re looking forward to playing some golf,” said May of himself and wife Betty, who also is retired from the health care field. “I’m going to retire from most all of the boards I’m involved with.”

During his time at Sebasticook Valley Hospital, May has been president of the LifeFlight Foundation and served on the boards of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Maine Health Network and the Maine Hospital Association, among others.

The hospital’s gross revenues grew under May from $19 million in 1999 to more than $51 million, according to a press release. May attributed that growth partially to the expansion of several programs, including partnering with Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems to open health clinics in central and northern Maine; constructing a helipad for the LifeFlight emergency helicopter service; building an Outpatient Women’s Health Center; expanding the laboratory and surgical units; installing a fixed-based MRI system; and bringing four Sebasticook Valley Regional Family Care primary care offices to Clinton, Pittsfield, Newport and Carmel.

“Our net revenue has tripled because people are using more and more services that we offer,” said May. “All of it was to try and improve our ability to meet the needs of the community.”

May said when he came to the Pittsfield hospital, his first challenge was improving some people’s perception of the facility.

“One of the first things I ran into was people who perceived Sebasticook Valley Hospital to be a Band-Aid station,” he said. “I looked at ways we could try to make sure people understood the quality that existed here.”

In 2006, the hospital received accreditation from a firm called the Joint Commission, which inspects thousands of hospitals across the country. According to May, most smaller hospitals — which in Maine are called “critical access” hospitals — don’t maintain that accreditation.

“It helps create a halo effect over the hospital and makes sure you’re doing things the way you should,” said May. “Sebasticook Valley Hospital now offers a lot more services than it ever did, and people in this community know that.”

May said a significant challenge facing the hospital is revenue. A provision in the supplemental budget being considered by the Legislature to close a $438 million revenue hole would cost Sebasticook Valley Hospital at least $350,000 a year, said May.

“That can easily wipe out the small margins that hospitals have,” he said. “We’re going to have to be nimble, creative, innovative and those are good things. There’s challenging times ahead.”

A search committee already is working to find May’s replacement, according to a press release.

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