A state board has recommended rejecting Central Maine Healthcare’s request to build a $14 million ambulatory surgical center in Topsham.

Central Maine Healthcare has not demonstrated the economic feasibility or the public need for the center, according to a March 5 analysis by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Division of Licensing and Certification.

The review also found that Central Maine Healthcare couldn’t prove that the center wouldn’t have a negative impact on the quality of care by existing service providers in the Midcoast.

Healthcare providers must obtain a state certificate of need to build new health care facilities, expand existing facilities or make other major changes to the health care landscape. That requirement is intended to control health care costs by restricting the duplication of services.

Maine’s DHHS commissioner makes the final decision on certification.

Central Maine has suspended the application process and will resume it later this year.

“For now, we will focus our efforts on other important projects that will best meet the needs of our patients and other stakeholders in the communities we serve,” said Hugh A. Jones, the vice president of strategy and managed care for Central Maine Healthcare.

Central Maine Healthcare’s proposed 20,000-square-foot center at the Topsham Fair Mall would have two operating rooms and four procedure rooms. The center would handle issues related to cancer, orthopedics and gastroenterology, among others.

“We overwhelmingly proved the public need for the Topsham Ambulatory Surgery Center through sound research reinforced by support from area independent health care providers, community members, employers, insurers, legislators and business leaders,” Jones said. “We have a demonstrated ability to run a high-quality, safe and convenient operation and the financial capacity to support this investment.”

Brunswick-based Mid Coast-Parkview Health opposes the project. Spokesperson Judy Kelsh said Mid Coast Hospital is already providing the same services the proposed center would offer.

“Mid Coast-Parkview Health has maintained that building the Topsham facility will end up costing local businesses and patients more by adding unneeded capacity that undermines our work to bring affordable, quality care to the people in this region,” Kelsh wrote in a prepared statement.

According to Central Maine Healthcare, there are 16 outpatient surgical centers in Maine, including the Central Maine Orthopedics Ambulatory Surgical Center in Auburn, which is partially owned by Central Maine Healthcare. The Topsham center would be the first in the Midcoast.

Central Maine Healthcare has up to one year to reactivate the review of its proposed Topsham center, said Jackie Farwell, a spokesperson for DHHS.

This is not the first time Mid Coast-Parkview Health — formerly Mid Coast Health Services — has squared off against Central Maine Healthcare. In 2012, both submitted applications for a certificate of need from DHHS to assume operations at Parkview Adventist Medical Center in Brunswick.

Ultimately, Mid Coast Health was allowed to merge with Parkview in 2015.


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