Parkview Adventist Medical Center in Brunswick has become the latest focus of health care competition in Maine.

Parkview’s board has voted to make it the fourth hospital in Lewiston-based Central Maine Healthcare Corp.’s network.

Central Maine Healthcare and Parkview filed a Certificate of Need Application last week seeking state approval for a change-of-control transaction. No money would change hands, and there would be no new equipment or change of services at Parkview.

Meanwhile, Mid Coast Health Services in Brunswick said it will file a competing proposal to allow it to partner with Parkview and eliminate $24.3 million a year in duplicated costs and services, such as two intensive care units. Mid Coast and Parkview are less than five miles apart.

Under Certificate of Need reviews, the state Department of Health and Human Services must decide within 45 days whether hospital construction or reorganizations can move forward.

In 2008, Mid Coast and Central Maine clashed over similar proposals. Those plans faltered and Parkview remained independent. Since then, health care costs have escalated and competition for patients has intensified.

If it were up to Parkview, it would partner with Central Maine Healthcare, said Tory Ryden, Parkview’s director of marketing and community relations.

Parkview and Central Maine Healthcare forged a relationship about 10 years ago to allow Central Maine’s emergency department physicians at Parkview.

“There’s room for two hospitals in Brunswick. If Parkview were to fold into Mid Coast, there would be less choice for patients,” said Ryden. “There’s room in the proverbial sandbox for all of us to play and to play nicely.”

Parkview has 55 beds. Central Maine Healthcare includes a 250-bed medical center in Lewiston, as well as Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital.

“We have a long tradition of helping local hospitals greatly increase the scope and quality of their services,” said Central Maine Healthcare’s CEO and President Peter Chalke in a prepared statement. “Parkview and Central Maine Healthcare agree that now is the time to move to the next level of cooperation.”

Central Maine Healthcare said it would continue to be “respectful” of Parkview’s Seventh Day Adventist mission and values.

Mid Coast Health Services suggested that its partnership with Parkview would save money and strengthen the two hospitals by allowing them to share resources and equipment instead of duplicating services. Mid Coast has 92 beds.

“Competition in health care in small communities like ours drives costs up. It creates unnecessary duplication of services and infrastructure,” Mid Coast said in a prepared statement.

It noted that five other hospitals operate within a 25-mile radius of the Bath-Brunswick-Topsham area: Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital in Portland, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, and Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta.

Independent hospitals across the U.S. are joining larger health-care systems to cut costs, expand services and benefit from greater heft in negotiating with vendors.

A move by Parkview to partner with a larger health care center would be the latest consolidation in Maine. Four community hospitals have joined larger systems in the last five years alone, Central Maine Healthcare said.

Mercy Hospital, for example, recently signed a letter of intent to negotiate its sale to Steward Health Care System LLC, a for-profit hospital chain.

A deal with Central Maine Healthcare would bring a new level of care to Parkview, Ryden said. Patients, for example, would have access to specialists at Central Maine Medical Center and even Massachusetts General Hospital, via electronic medicine.

Mid Coast, meanwhile, has an affiliation with Maine Medical Center in Portland.

 

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

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