The COVID-19 pandemic has once again laid bare a truth about Maine – health care delivery can be a challenge for our state, given our relatively small population and our large geographic size. Mainers need and deserve access to high-quality, low-cost health care – and they shouldn’t have to drive hours to receive that care. At Central Maine Healthcare, that is our primary mission – to expand the scope of how health care is delivered in our state to provide all Mainers with the care they need, near where they live, work, play and pray and at a price they can afford.

That vision is what lies at the heart of our plan to offer outpatient surgical services in a freestanding facility by building an ambulatory surgery center in Topsham. Central Maine Healthcare providers have been serving Topsham and the midcoast Maine community for over a decade, and during that time they have developed an acute understanding of what services are inaccessible, or completely lacking, in the region. Our community of physicians, patients, businesses and payers has told us that patients need access to low-cost options for outpatient surgery services close to home.

The Topsham ambulatory surgery center would provide the community with same-day surgical procedures for a  number of services including oncology; breast reconstruction; ear, nose and throat; gastrointestinal; orthopedic, and urology. These services build on the existing offerings at Central Maine Healthcare’s Topsham Care Center and Maine Urgent Care, and the new ambulatory surgery center would be adjacent to these existing facilities.

In Maine and across the nation, health care is increasingly being offered outside of the hospital setting. This is a positive development for a number of different reasons. Locating an ambulatory surgery center in or near our patients’ community means that care is less costly, more convenient and more accessible to them, and the efficiencies of an ambulatory surgery center offer not only an improved patient experience, but also improved health outcomes. Performing procedures outside of the hospital has also been shown to be safer – comparative data show that patients who have procedures in an ambulatory surgery center are six times less likely to develop an infection following their surgery than those treated in a hospital setting.

Perhaps most importantly for Mainers who are struggling to afford needed care, ambulatory surgery centers charge non-hospital-based rates for procedures, as opposed to the more expensive rates charged in hospital outpatient surgery settings. A procedure at an ambulatory surgery center is typically half the cost of the same surgery in a hospital setting. Offering lower-cost options at an ambulatory surgery center will mean that fewer Mainers will put off or forgo needed care because they cannot afford hospital rates.

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services is reviewing Central Maine Healthcare’s certificate of need application to build the Topsham Ambulatory Surgery Center. The public is encouraged to submit comments until Aug. 21. If you agree that Mainers deserve more high-quality, low-cost health care options, we urge you to submit a comment in support of the Topsham ambulatory surgery center to or to DHHS – Division of Licensing & Certification, Certificate of Need, State House Station 11, Augusta ME 04333, Re: Central Maine Healthcare – Topsham Ambulatory Surgery Center.

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