Brunswick hospitals dueling over community’s health care needs in wake of merger proposal

Posted Aug. 12, 2012, at 3:33 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 12, 2012, at 8:42 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Central Maine Healthcare has filed a letter of intent with the state to take a controlling stake in Brunswick’s Parkview Adventist Medical Center, which prompted neighboring Mid Coast Hospital to file a competing proposal that would essential absorb Parkview, according to documents filed with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services.

In June, Central Maine Healthcare, which is the parent organization of Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston as well as Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital, requested that the department allow it to take control of Parkview’s nine-member board of directors through a rewriting of Parkview’s articles of incorporation and bylaws.

No financial transactions would accompany the change and there would be no changes in services, increase in beds or new equipment, according to the filing.

Mid Coast Hospital, a larger hospital which is located near Parkview in Brunswick, responded by filing a competing proposal in late June that all acute care inpatient and outpatient care be consolidated at its campus at Cook’s Corner, thereby eliminating the need for Parkview in the community.

“This proposal seeks to provide the same or similar services that CMHC proposes to provide through its operation of PAMC, which could not provide services and could not exist without CMHC’s substantial financial support and operational control,” reads Mid Coast’s June 29 letter, which was written by President and CEO Lois Skillings. “Mid Coast is capable of providing the same services to the community that CMHS seeks to provide through its operation of PAMC.”

Both Central Maine Healthcare and Mid Coast have told the Bangor Daily News that the letters of intent are preliminary steps and that more extensive applications would be filed sometime this summer.

Central Maine Healthcare, which acquired the Bridgton and Rumford hospitals through a similar process in 1999, said its proposal would give it ultimate governing authority over Parkview, but that day-to-day operational control would remain in Brunswick. In addition, Parkview would retain its physical properties and tax-exempt charitable status.

Mid Coast questioned whether its proposal would trigger the requirements of a full Certificate of Need proposal as is spelled out in Maine law, including certain financial investments. Mid Coast said in the event that the department finds such a process is required, it is prepared to establish a new Parkview Health Trust of $10 million. Proceeds from that fund would be used to “support efforts to improve the health and well-being of the midcoast communities through prevention and other population health activities.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said no applications had been received as of Friday.

This is not the first time Mid Coast Hospital has argued that Brunswick doesn’t need two hospitals. It made similar arguments in 2008 and 2010 when Parkview and Central Maine Healthcare considered various forms of mergers to which Parkview responded in newspaper advertisements that it had not made plans to close.

Bangor Daily News staff writer Jackie Farwell contributed to this report.

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