It was over 50 years ago when Medicare became a law in 1966. Among numerous other changes, the law required hospitals to pass rigorous inspections in order to receive payment for the care of patients. At the time, neither the Lincoln Hospital nor the Workman Hospital passed certification to receive Medicare patients. Concerned citizens in our community held a meeting on July 26, 1966 at the Rosebowl Restaurant with representatives from the Maine Department of Health and Welfare to discuss the future of healthcare in the Lincoln Lakes Region.
By the end of the meeting, ten members were chosen to further review options of renovating the current medical facilities to bring them up to code, or constructing a brand new facility using Hill-Burton funds. Those original members of the Study Committee included: Chairman G. Daniel Aiken, Robert Barton, Wilbur Clay, Taylor Bradstreet, Eugene Libby, Kathleen McCormick, Perry Barker, Dr. A. J. Gulesian, Argie Edgecomb, and Percy Porter.
Over time, the Study Committee grew to 25 members who were devoted to the cause, spending countless hours collecting 2,858 signatures for a petition that was sent to Senator Margaret Chase Smith. She presented the petition to President Lyndon B. Johnson calling his attention to the struggle of Medicare patients in the Lincoln area.
In April 1967, legislation creating Hospital Administrative District #1 was signed into law by Maine Governor Kenneth Curtis and on September 10, 1967, voters of the 15 towns in the district gave overwhelming approval of Hospital Administrative District (HAD) #1. Over the next few years, the HAD #1 Board Members worked to raise $500,000, which would be matched by federal Hill-Burton funds for a total of $1 million to construct a new facility.
Photo caption: 1973 Board Members (l to r): Dr. Carl Troutt, Jean Twist, Harold Noyes, Philip Reed, Skip Haskell, Fred Dingley, Raymond Dugan, Dr. Bourcard Nesin, Keith Ham, Linda Stone, Grace Bowers, Kay McCormick, Mabel Dill, Ruth Lewis, Walter Clapp, Theo Jipson, Rhoda Dolley, Administrator Leo Jonason, Donald Whitney, Dean Neal, Norman Blanchard, Ralph Hooke, Daniel Aiken, Roger Tourtillotte, Sam Shorey. Absent from photo were: Myron Doane, Rev. Lewis Chase, Hervey Jordan, Joey Crooker, Erroll Woodward, and Porter Bodine.
Fundraising efforts started with selling Christmas trees in December 1967 which made for a slow start, bringing in just $77 toward the cause.
On March 20, 1970, a ten acre lot was purchased where Penobscot Valley Hospital (PVH) stands today on the corner of Transalpine and Enfield Roads in Lincoln. Construction started in 1971. Efforts of the Committee and Board finally paid off when the first patient was admitted on June 4, 1973 with forty-four staff members coordinating patient care that day.
“The first employees at Penobscot Valley Hospital had to learn to work together at the same time that they were getting used to a new workplace and new jobs,” states PVH Board Member and original employee Bonnie Gray. “The result was confusion and chaos but people adjusted quickly and grew into a close-knit hospital family.”
On March 13, 1977, PVH held another open house which drew 1,000 area residents who viewed the $2 million expansion that added 14 beds, an enhanced outpatient area, a new laboratory, increased x-ray facilities, expanded administrative offices and six provider suites.
Hospital administrative districts are granted the power to raise revenue through issuing bonds and levying taxes. During its existence, HAD #1 never approached the districts or townspeople for financial assistance.
In 2001, Penobscot Valley Hospital worked to convert from a Hospital Administrative District to a non-profit 501(c)(3) and confirmed an 11-member board to oversee the new organization. While there were no changes in healthcare services provided, the new corporate structure transferred assets and liabilities from the townspeople living in the 15 districts to the Hospital on January 1, 2002. The new corporate structure no longer allowed the hospital to turn to the districts for financial assistance in times of need.
CHANGES IN HEALTHCARE
Fast forward to September 2015 when Penobscot Valley Hospital and Health Access Network Leadership, Medical Staff and Board Members met to participate in a strategic planning session. Seven imperatives were established and Senior Leadership members ensured that nearly 80 tactics were completed in 2016 to meet the needs of this strategic plan.
The predominant objectives at PVH have been revenue enhancement and expense reductions while maintaining appropriate healthcare services for the community.
Operational highlights at PVH from 2015-2016 have included:
New service line provided by Orthopedic Surgeon Nilesh Patil, MD
New service line with Bangor Children’s Dentistry pediatric dentists
Assisted Health Access Network in Recruiting Podiatrist Maria Galimidi, DPM
Recruited General Surgeon David Rideout, MD
Cash Remediation Plan reduced expenses by $3.5 million from 2014-2016
Restructured Hospitalist Program
Synernet Worker’s Comp Fund – Most Improved for 2016
Service Enhancement Committee worked to enhance coordinated care with Health Access Network providers
Community Relations Committee volunteers reached 1,000+ people
Patient experience scores in ED & PVPC surpassed state averages
Healthcare and information technologies are two of the most rapidly changing industries according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and small, rural hospitals must be willing to adapt to these changes for sustainability.
Since the time of the original HAD #1 Board, we have seen vast changes in healthcare. Healthcare reform continues to reshape traditional models of care. More uncertainty is ahead with a change in elected officials who are currently discussing a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
The current Board of Directors at PVH is made up of: President Phillip Dawson, Jr., Vice President Richard Wyman, Treasurer Patty Houghton, Amanda Dunn, Bonnie Gray, Annette Haynes, Patricia Nobel, MD, H. Joseph Thibodeau, DMD, Frederick Woodman, Jr., and Earlene Young. In 2016 alone, these devoted members have volunteered hundreds of hours working to ensure healthcare is sustainable
as our local economy struggles.
“I often think back to the support required to create HAD #1 when 25 committee members volunteered to battle legislative issues, legal issues, financing, and community backing - all to maintain healthcare services when the Medicaid program threatened closure of patient care in Lincoln. The community support was evident when nearly 3,000 people turned out to tour the halls during the PVH Open House in 1973,” states PVH Chairman of the Board Phil Dawson.
“Today, PVH continues to face many of the same challenges we have struggled with for the last 43 years. Our current Board, Senior Leadership and staff remain vigilant to the new challenges ahead and are devoted to sustaining high-quality healthcare services to our community,” adds Dawson. “We look forward to continued support from our community, just as HAD #1 received over 50 years ago.”
Written by Kristie Libby, Director of Marketing & Development with assistance from Board Members Bonnie Gray and Phil Dawson.