Presque Isle hospital faces $1M budget gap

Posted June 01, 2012, at 7:08 p.m.
Sylvia Getman
Sylvia Getman

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Aroostook Medical Center is taking steps to close a $1 million budget shortfall.

The health care organization is carefully watching capital and discretionary spending and any new hiring decisions through the end of the fiscal year, according to Jason Parent, TAMC’s director of advancement.

Management and nonunion employees who have accumulated unused vacation time have been directed to use paid vacation days accrued in 2012 before the end of the year, Parent said.

Earned time off is considered a financial liability on their books.

The paid leave directive affects about half of TAMC’s 1,023 employees throughout Aroostook County, he said. In addition to its 89-bed A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital, TAMC also operates a walk-in clinic in Presque Isle, health centers in Mars Hill, Fort Fairfield, Caribou and Ashland, and a long-term care facility in Mars Hill.

The health care organization is owed $10.4 million by the state through Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor jointly operated by the state and federal governments, Parent said.

Managers were notified of the cost-cutting effort on May 18, with an effective date of May 21. The paid leave directive will continue through the end of this fiscal year, which is Sept. 30, Parent said.

“There is no impact on patient care,” he said.

The introduction of new technology and TAMC’s exploration of alternative fuel sources to heat its Presque Isle campus also should save costs, he said. The cost-saving measures are expected to land the hospital back in the black by the end of the fiscal year.

On the revenue side, TAMC anticipates that the addition of six new physicians and new procedures, including arthroscopic and female incontinence surgeries, will generate additional money, he said.

“We are working diligently to address this, both with the addition of new physicians and new procedures and appropriate belt-tightening measures,” TAMC President and CEO Sylvia Getman said in a statement. “I am very proud of the employees of TAMC and their willingness to work with us to address this temporary gap.”

The belt-tightening at TAMC, which is part of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, follows job cuts last week at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta and at Rockport-based Pen Bay Healthcare in February.

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