January 22, 2018
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Local Hospitals Sign Agreement to Work Together

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(l to r) DECH CEO Doug Jones and CRH CEO Mike Lally sign collaboration agreement as DECH Board member James Thompson and CRH Board Chair Everett Libby witness the signing.

Calais Regional Hospital and Down East Community Hospital joined forces so they could work together to maintain access to healthcare for the people of Washington County. CEOs and Board members came together to sign an Agreement of Collaboration between the two facilities on Friday, April l9.

Critical access hospitals (CAHs) face significant challenges on several fronts including threats of more state and federal budget cuts, reduced reimbursements, strained finances, competition from other providers, healthcare regulations, and legislative changes that add to the cost of operations as well as the difficulty and expense of recruiting physicians to our area. Some problems are too complex, or the solutions too costly, for one organization to manage alone.

Calais Regional Hospital CEO, Mike Lally and Down East Community CEO, Doug Jones, stressed that collaboration is not just an option, but a necessity to maintain local viability which will allow both hospitals to continue to provide access to care and quality services to people across Washington County. Some very important collaborative benefits are:

*Increased access to services
*Increased access to qualified staff
*Increased patient satisfaction
*Sharing of resources, and
*Continued access to healthcare in Washington County

Our hospitals are essential to the delivery of rural health care and play a crucial role as a safety net for rural patients. We provide high-quality health care within a very challenging environment and it is critical that we stay viable and sustainable for our communities. According to the hospitals, this is not a sharing of governance but rather a commitment to work together for the mutual benefit of our communities while preserving and sharing resources to create greater efficiency.

Benefits of collaboration go beyond financial. Through collaboration, our hospitals can not only maintain access to healthcare in our county, but also we could, potentially, build the capacity to deliver more services that our patients and communities need. Board chairs, Everett Libby of Calais and Eric Burke of Down East Community, see this as groundbreaking progress that supports the future of quality medicine in our communities.