Jeffery Sanders, who became president of Maine Medical Center in January, has played a key role in its $534 million expansion plan. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald)

Maine Medical Center’s new president said he believes one way to improve health care is to focus more on what’s happening beyond the walls of the institutions that provide it.

Jeffery Sanders, the Portland hospital’s former executive vice president and chief operating officer, became president in January. His immediate predecessor, former President and CEO Richard Petersen, remains CEO of the hospital but has taken on a new role as president of its parent organization, MaineHealth.

Sanders has been the point man on Maine Med’s five-year, $534 million expansion plan, which includes a new parking garage on St. John Street and a six-story medical building on Congress Street. That effort included working with neighborhood groups and city officials in Portland to mitigate potential opposition to the project.

In an interview Tuesday, Sanders said he wants to bring that same collaborative mindset to other aspects of the hospital’s mission.

“I think it resulted in a good zoning approach for us that did not result in a lot of backlash, which you sometimes see,” Sanders said. “One of the things I want to build on in my current role is how do we continue to effectively engage the broader community in improving health care.”

Whereas Sanders was deeply involved in the minutiae of Maine Med’s day-to-day operations, he is now taking on a more strategic role. Meanwhile, Petersen will focus more attention on parent company MaineHealth. Maine Med is the state’s largest hospital, and MaineHealth is its largest health care system.

Both executives are well-compensated, with Sanders earning about $639,900 in salary and benefits during Maine Med’s 2018 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, and Petersen earning a total of over $1.3 million. The hospital would not disclose how the recent change in titles has affected their compensation.

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