Letter to the Editor

To The Editor: 

Response to the article on Calais regional Hospital having their decision to close the OB unit which was discussed and voted on by the Calais City Council.

Calais Regional Hospital has been losing money on a daily basis for many years now and the reasons are clear as to why it is happening;

•Decreased reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid with the insurance companies close on their heels with respect to reimbursement. Where is the money going when they pay the hospitals less and charge higher rates to provide service?    

•The aging population in Washington County is well known and the population of this area is at zero or negative growth, meaning less people to come to the hospital.

•Lower than average numbers of people with insurance and high numbers of Medicare and Medicaid, and a large percentage of no pay patients.

•Attraction of Physicians- Most physicians when they come out of school to practice, do so in their hometown areas or areas where there are higher populations meaning more patients and more with insurance. These docs have medical loans to pay off and want to do so where they can see enough paying patients to do so in a timely fashion. Coming to the Washington County area is not likely on the top of their list unless perhaps, they are from here or want to experience the rural lifestyle that most of us enjoy.

•Past hospital administrations have either not wanted to make the hard decisions to improve the financial health of Calais Regional Hospital or have not known how to do so. Given the rapid change of healthcare, this is a difficult process.

With Calais Regional Hospital in a limited financial situation, it becomes even more difficult to resolve some of the issues listed above because just throwing money at these issues is not an option.

The board and administration of this hospital have the difficult task of making the correct strategic decisions to steer the hospital to improved services and financial stability. With the instability of the present government healthcare system, the closing of Critical Access Hospitals like Calais, is accelerating nationwide. Where will we go if Calais Regional Hospital was to close?

The decision to discontinue the OB service which has been running at a perennial loss for years, was a very difficult decision to make but one that had to be made. Losses such as these lead to hospitals failing and eventually closing. The Calais Regional Administration and Board are working to promote some new services that will better meet the needs of larger numbers of patients in the Washington County area.

I would like offer support to the Calais Hospital administration and board in their decisions improve the hospital’s service lines and improve the financial situation for the entire hospital. It would also be appropriate for the Calais City Council to take the time to understand what is occurring nationally with respect to Critical Access Hospitals and understand the misgivings and inaction of past Calais Regional hospital administrations. I would rather have seen the Calais City Council strike a supportive tone and willingness to work with Calais Regional Hospital in their approach to the OB closing instead of absorbing the fear mongering from a union representative and a few employees that promoted their union members but could care less about the needs of the entire hospital or indeed, its future. A no confidence vote on the Calais Regional Board served nothing but to increase anger and emotional energy in a non-productive direction.

The future of Healthcare in this country is in flux right now, and we are better working together to keep Calais Regional Hospital around for many, many years.

Steven A. Welsch, RRT.

Robbinston, Maine