March 17, 2010

Health group to be owner of Parkview

ANN S

— By . KIM

Staff Writer

BRUNSWICK — The company that owns Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston plans to acquire Parkview Adventist Medical Center.

The organizations announced the proposed affiliation Monday.

The agreement would make Parkview a wholly owned subsidiary of Central Maine Healthcare, which also controls Rumford Hospital and Bridgton Hospital.

Officials said the financial details of the arrangement would be worked out in the coming months.

It's not yet clear how the change will affect services at the Brunswick hospital, but a Parkview executive said changes to the hospital's staffing are not anticipated.

The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the summer.

Representatives of the organizations said Parkview, which opened in 1959, will benefit from increased purchasing power, better access to capital and improved physician recruitment.

''The small hospital in today's world has a difficult time by itself,'' said Ted Lewis, Parkview's president and chief executive officer.

Peter Chalke, president and chief executive officer of Central Maine Healthcare, said his organization has worked with small hospitals and is respectful of Parkview's history.

He said the faith-based aspects of the hospital will be supported.

''We really don't want to take the 'community' out of the community hospital,'' Chalke said.

Parkview is a 55-bed hospital with slightly fewer than 430 employees and 137 physicians.

Dr. Robert Aranson, a pulmonary and intensive care physician, said cautious optimism and uncertainty have been part of the mood at the hospital, which he described as very personal and the workplace where he has felt the most valued.

Association with a large institution such as Central Maine Medical Center means additional support, resources and the ability to grow, Aronson said.

In any such alliance, however, there are also concerns the small hospital will lose its identity and be dictated to by the large partner, he said.

''On the one hand, it can be an exciting thing. On the other hand, it can be unsettling,'' he said.

Parkview would continue to be governed by its board of directors, with the board of Central Maine Healthcare having final authority over the hospital, said Chuck Gill, a spokesman for Central Maine Healthcare.

''The local board is in touch with the local community and knows what goes on in the local community,'' he said.

No changes are expected among the executives, physicians and other staff, said Sheryl S. McWilliams, Parkview's vice president.

Mark Pekar, pastor of the Brunswick Seventh-day Adventist Church, said he was happy that the hospital will remain open.

''Parkview has a long history of just defying the odds, in terms of being able to exist, from its very inception. It's a miracle place,'' he said.

His wife, Collette, associate pastor of the church and the hospital's chaplain, said she is relieved, particularly because 20 percent of the church's members are Parkview employees.

''With the resources and stability that Central Maine can give us, a lot of the stress they're feeling about the future of their work and the future of the hospital can be relieved,'' she said.

Parkview closed its maternity ward Friday, citing competition, the anticipated closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station and the loss of patients that followed the loss of three obstetricians to Mid Coast Hospital, which is also in Brunswick. Parkview officials said closure of the maternity ward was unrelated to the deal with Central Maine Healthcare.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

akim@pressherald.com

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