January 24, 2019

CMH will open Bridgton walk-in clinic, plans more 'accessible care options'

Courtesy / Central Maine Healthcare
Courtesy / Central Maine Healthcare
Central Maine Healthcare's new Bridgton walk-in clinic will be part of already-established North Bridgton Family Practice at 14 Wyonegonic Road.

Central Maine Healthcare is opening a walk-in clinic in Bridgton that will offer primary care and lab services, the first of several "accessible care options" that will be offered in the Lake Region by the Lewiston-based health care system.

CMH, which operates 23-bed Bridgton Hospital, said the move is in response to community needs, and comes after the hospital's former president said last summer the system would seek input from the community.

"We heard from the community that access to primary care was their most important healthcare concern," Jeff Brickman, president and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare, said in a news release Tuesday. "And we know that the community wants same-day options, without having to wait for an appointment or make an expensive visit to the ER. This is a big step toward meeting those needs."

The clinic, part of already-established North Bridgton Family Practice, will offer primary care and lab draw services at its 14 Wyonegonic Road location, and be open to the public.

"Patients will not need to have an existing relationship with the practice, Bridgton Hospital or CMH in order to use this service," said the release. "Unlike the previous 'walk-in clinic/urgent care' at Bridgton Hospital, this is not a fast-track [emergency department]; services will be billed at a practice visit level which is significantly lower than an emergency room visit."

It will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

"Further developments in access to care will be announced, and they will specifically address the expressed needs of the communities we serve," CMH spokeswoman Kate Carlisle said Thursday.

Evolving trends in health care

The new clinic comes after a turbulent year for CMH's hospitals in Bridgton and Rumford, including a no-confidence vote in Brickman by staff, some staff leaving the hospitals and the resignation of David Frum, president of the two hospitals.

Patrick Wright, a former New Hampshire hospital administrator, was recently named president of the two hospitals, replacing Frum.

In August, shortly before he resigned, Frum said in an op-ed published in the Bridgton news that the health care system was "reaching out to stakeholders, business owners, patients and elected officials to solicit their thoughts on what the community needs most from its hospital."

He said the feedback would be combined with the context of national and state trends in health care that include clinical innovations that make it easier for patients to get "excellent care on an outpatient or limited-stay basis; changes in payment models that affect consumers' choices; increased competition from non-hospital facilities, and new employment trends for physicians.

"All of these trends alter the viability of the old models of care and force us to creatively address the needs of our patients," he said.

Despite difficulties of the past year, both Bridgton and Rumford hospitals were among seven in Maine and 17 nationally in 2018 to be named a Top Rural Hospital by the Leapfrog Group, an independent hospital watchdog association.


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