Fort Kent hospital CEO abruptly retires

Posted May 04, 2011, at 7:04 p.m.

FORT KENT — An official at Northern Maine Medical Center said Wednesday evening that Martin Bernstein, who has served as the hospital’s chief executive officer for 27 years, has retired effective immediately.

Robin Damboise, director of human resources at the hospital, said she could not elaborate further or say whether the decision was made suddenly or announced to hospital personnel sometime before.

“We wish him the best,” she said.

Peter Sirois, the chief operating officer at NMMC, has been named interim CEO, she said.

Bernstein is away from the area until next week and was not available for comment Wednesday.

Northern Maine Medical Center is a 49-bed acute-care facility that serves 15,000 people in the upper St. John Valley.

In February, NMMC cut four administrative positions, shifted job responsibilities, reduced remaining administrators’ pay by 2 percent and restructured its operations in order to stabilize its finances.

Bernstein, who announced the cutbacks, said they were necessary because of a decline in inpatient activity at the facility.

The CEO said at the time that adjustments were expected to save the hospital and its affiliates $428,000 over the next seven months of the fiscal year, and $733,000 over a 12-month period.

As part of the reductions, the hospital eliminated its public relations-community development position and its respiratory therapy director position. The hospital also did away with its director of education.

Forest Hill Rehab & Skilled Nursing Center, a 45-bed nursing and rehab facility, also is under the umbrella of the hospital. The hospital also eliminated the administrator of that facility to save money.

Bernstein said several factors contributed to the decline in inpatient activity, but the main reason was the downturn in the economy.

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