Parkview Adventist Medical Center has a problem. Several, actually.
Its average occupancy rate — 18 percent — is among the lowest in the nation and far lower than Mid Coast Hospital at 59 percent.
Parkview lost $1 million on an operating basis in 2011 — $10 million over the course of the past five years.
Its debt to Lewiston-based Central Maine Healthcare Inc., is substantial and probably can’t ever be repaid.
The array of services it offers does not seem broad enough to comport with the specialized needs of the community it serves.
In the free market, all those are a prescription for failure. In the regulated world of hospitals, though, the state can step in and “save” Parkview by keeping it open through an alternative operating arrangement that includes pumping in more new investment from beyond the market area.
While it continues to operate in the red — and this shows no signs of abating — Parkview has shown itself to be the weaker player in a two-hospital town that needs only one. That’s why it has sought outside help, and that’s why Central Maine Healthcare filed a Certificate of Need to take over operating control of Parkview.
The hospital left standing after the state weighs the Certificate of Need request must be a fully licensed, integrated health center offering inpatient hospital care, outpatient clinics and an array of community support services that show commitment to the health of the local community but also — and more importantly — a financial growth path and a vision of how to deliver health care in the future.
Mid Coast Hospital is exactly what a holistic, community-centered health care system with prudent financial management looks like. That’s why the state Department of Health and Human Services must reject the Certificate of Need application from Central Maine Healthcare Inc.
Mid Coast provides a wider range of health care services, delivers them locally, and has shown a history of fiduciary responsibility and forward thinking on costs and trends, all of which make it, clearly, the best health care operator in our area.
While Mid Coast’s promise to cut $24 million in “duplicative services” likely would drag the local economy with job cuts, it’s the only way forward for a hospital system that is cost-heavy and reimbursement-poor, as it transitions toward outpatient preventive and wellness care and away from expensive, hospital-based urgent care.
Running a responsive local hospital based on infusions of cash from elsewhere strikes us as leaving a heart attack patient on a defibrillator, more or less forever.
And yet, no shock therapy can save Parkview from its own financial woes and lack of vision. This patient needs to be given its last rites.
Bath-Brunswick needs one hospital — an integrated health provider with a plan to serve its community. Based on its footprint, its leadership and its history of being fiscally responsible, that provider is Mid Coast Hospital.
We hope the state agrees by rejecting Central Maine Healthcare’s request for a Certificate of Need.