July 9, 2013

Parkview aims to reduce costs by $2.5 million

The recent combining of the medical-surgical and intensive care units has cut 16 full-time positions.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BRUNSWICK – Parkview Adventist Medical Center has combined its intensive care unit with its medical-surgical unit and cut 16 full-time positions as part of an effort to cut $2.5 million in costs.

Fewer patients, unpaid MaineCare debt and an influx of patients who qualify for free care forced the hospital to take the cost-cutting steps, said Parkview spokeswoman Tory Ryden.

Like other hospitals in Maine, Parkview has struggled with declining numbers of patients as advancements in technology have enabled hospitals to do more outpatient procedures. Parkview had an occupancy rate of 24.6 percent in 2011.

The 16 full-time equivalent positions that were cut represented 5.4 percent of Parkview's workforce. The cuts included nursing jobs and other positions in almost every area of the hospital, Ryden said. "Every unit saw a change."

With the merger of the intensive care and medical-surgical units, nurses in the medical-surgical area will be cross-trained to support staffers who handle intensive care patients, Ryden said.

Central Maine Healthcare said last year that it would seek to acquire Parkview. The state Department of Health and Human Services, whose approval is needed for any change in control of hospitals, said it would not approve the acquisition without additional information.

Central Maine Healthcare asked the state to suspend the review, pending a feasibility study.

The cost-cutting at Parkview was done with the input of Central Maine Healthcare, Ryden said.

Its merger of the intensive care unit with the medical-surgical unit mirrors moves at Bridgton and Rumford hospitals, both of which are owned by Central Maine Healthcare.

Managers from the Bridgton and Rumford hospitals and their CEO, David Frum, consulted with Parkview's leadership "regarding how to achieve additional operational efficiencies at Parkview based upon the 'lessons learned' at these two critical access hospitals," said Central Maine Healthcare spokesman Chuck Gill. "The final decisions were made by the Parkview board and leadership."

Parkview is looking at several ways to save money, ranging from cutting its staff to eliminating a free bottled-water program for employees, Ryden said.

Other hospitals in Maine are making personnel changes. Two weeks ago, Maine Medical Center began offering voluntary retirement buyouts to 400 employees, citing a $13.4 million operating loss, and Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor has announced plans to close its laundry operation, moving the 17 employees to other jobs in the hospital.

Maine's 39 hospitals are owed $484 million in overdue Medicaid reimbursements. The state has approved paying its share of the debt, $186 million, which will release $298 million in federal funds. Parkview is due for reimbursement of $3.1 million to $3.5 million, Ryden said.

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

jhall@pressherald.com

 

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