February 8, 2019

CMH to citizens' group: 'Bridgton Hospital is not for sale'

A group of organizations and residents of the Bridgton area is asking local select boards to help find new ownership for Bridgton Hospital, which is part of Lewiston-based Central Maine Healthcare.

The Pondicherry Group, which was formed by area residents in the wake of upheaval in the administration of the 23-bed hospital, has written to 13 area town governing boards as well as reached out to other health care companies in the state, the Bangor Daily News reported Wednesday.

"Bridgton Hospital is not for sale," said CMH in a statement to Mainebiz Friday. "It's disheartening that a small group is spreading disinformation in the community it claims to represent. "Central Maine Healthcare remains committed to Bridgton and the Lakes Region and we are working hard to serve the needs of that community, increasing access to high-quality health care."

The group formed about six months ago and includes Bridgton-based Lakes Regional Substance Awareness Coalition, a former Bridgton hospital executive, and a retired Massachusetts nonprofit executive among its "18 core leaders," the Sun Journal reported.

Spokespeople for the group said area residents are concerned about high doctor turnover, too few doctors and patients seeking other health care options outside of CMH, both newspapers reported.

The health care company recently named a new president for Bridgton and Rumford Hospitals, Peter J. Wright, a former New Hampshire health care administrator. He begins next month.

Wright replaced David Frum, who had been head of Rumford Hospital since 2010 and Bridgton Hospital since 2011, and resigned after medical staff at the two hospitals voted no confidence in Jeff Brickman, CEO of the health care system.

CMH Executive Vice President David Tupponce told the Sun-Journal Thursday that Wright will be active in helping roll out the health care company's strategic plan with the the community. The strategic plan has been underway since last summer and is expected to be rolled out this spring.

CMH recently rolled out a walk-in clinic in Bridgton as part of what it said is its focus on improving health care for the region.

"I think the more important story is that we've been able to almost entirely replace the physicians that have left in the community," Tupponce told the Sun-Journal. "If anyone has had, historically, problems with getting in to see a primary care physician, they should absolutely reach back out to those practices because every day we have visits open for patients to get in."

He also cited the hospital recently being one of seven in Maine and 17 nationally recently to be named one of the best rural hospitals in the country by the Leapfrog group, an independent hospital watchdog association.


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