The board of trustees of St. Andrews Hospital is planning to unveil a new vision for a health care system in the Boothbay region, according to a Jan. 31 press release.
The trustees, who met the morning of Jan. 31, also have found no new information to change their plans concerning service changes at the hospital after reviewing a Jan. 23 report from consultants hired by the St. Andrews Task Force.
A proposal by Lincoln County Healthcare to close the emergency department at the hospital in April was approved last August, and the planned closure has since been postponed until October.
The St. Andrews Task Force has been working to prevent the closure of the emergency department; the closure of which would cause St. Andrews to lose its critical access hospital status.
The consultants’ report found that a critical access hospital could be viable on the Boothbay peninsula.
The board of trustees thought the findings in the report seemed predetermined, and were “disappointed” that key business and community leaders were not interviewed, according to the release.
The trustees did agree with three points in the recommendations of the report, including exploring opportunities to collaborate with area hospitals and providers, sharing providers to maintain a range of services, and working with the community to ensure affordable and accessible care at St. Andrews.
The board believes the record should be corrected on three points made in the consultants’ report: that no one entity owns St. Andrews hospital, that the definitive agreement between the hospital and MaineHealth states certain services will be preserved “unless” the trustees deem it necessary to change them, and that the report’s “direct comparison to particularly remote communities in rural Maine distorts the issue of access to care” since there are several hospitals near Boothbay.
Based on feedback from the communities in St. Andrews primary service area and the board’s review of the report, the trustees “look forward to unveiling a new vision for ensuring a high-quality, affordable, and sustainable healthcare system for the Boothbay region in the coming weeks,” according to the release.
Jim Chaousis, town manger for Boothbay, wrote in response to the press release, “It was apparent within minutes of receiving the report [Lincoln County Healthcare/MaineHealth] management was prepared to refute, discredit, and disregard it.”
“The St. Andrews Task Force’s commissioned study was a product of community leaders and key businesses. [Lincoln County Healthcare/MaineHealth] had no community involvement in the study they used for the proposed service changes,” Chaousis wrote.
The task force has worked within the deadlines set by Lincoln County Healthcare and MaineHealth and remains receptive to working with them, Chaousis wrote.
“We are not an adversary,” he wrote.