Since Lincoln County Healthcare announced its plan to close the St. Andrews Hospital emergency room in April, there have been two separate healthcare paths on this peninsula. While the healthcare organization has been working to resolve logistical and regulatory hurdles, a local task force has been working to stop or delay the proposed changes. Until recently, there has been little dialogue between the two organizations, but that has now formally changed.
In a meeting at St. Andrews Family Care Center on Monday, Dec. 3, representatives from Lincoln County Healthcare and the St. Andrews Hospital task force agreed to work together on the shared goal of providing a sound healthcare network for the region. To ensure there is time to reach consensus on the form of that healthcare network and to rebuild community trust, Lincoln County Healthcare agreed to delay any clinical changes until October 1.
“We believe the new date will give us the necessary time to develop a unified vision for our region’s future healthcare needs,” LCH President Jim Donovan said. “We also understand and appreciate how important it is for the towns in the region to have the necessary time to prepare for changes in EMS funding.”
Task Force Chair Chuck Cunningham said, “Logistically, this is a monumental decision for LCH. They have amended their implementation of service changes to include the surging community involvement in healthcare. I applaud our healthcare decision-makers for being true leaders.”
“LCH and MaineHealth’s agreement to extend the changes from April to October and to work with the Task Force intimately in the changes in healthcare in this region is a significant, positive event. It signals a willingness to help our communities to digest the issues and to serve our constituents with the best possible outcome in a difficult time,” Task Force member Stuart Smith said.
LCH Board Chair Pete Mundy said, “The Board’s willingness to delay the ER closure indicates its desire to work with the community and Task Force to provide high quality healthcare at a lower cost in the region. We want to develop the best healthcare system we can for this community, given the changing environment both statewide and nationally. We also want the community’s involvement and understanding going forward toward this goal. In the end, we must have a system that is sustainable and one that the community will use and support.”
In their meeting on Monday, the new partners agreed to meet regularly and to embark on a shared project of designing an emergency response system to serve the region’s needs. The Task Force’s independent healthcare survey by iVantage will continue as planned.
Sue Mello can be reached at 844-4629 or firstname.lastname@example.org