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June 13, 2018

Calais hospital terminates management agreement with for-profit firm

Courtesy / Calais Regional Hospital Calais Regional Hospital CEO Rodney Boula is now a hospital employee, following the hospital board of director's decision to end the management contract held for 31 years by the Brentwood, Tenn.-based Quorum Health Resources hospital management firm.

The Calais Regional Hospital's board of directors and Quorum Health Resources have mutually agreed to end the management contract that the Brentwood, Tenn.-based hospital management firm has held for 31 years.

That decision comes after strong public criticism over decisions in the past year to downsize the hospital’s level of services.

Two months ago the hospital announced on its website Tuesday that it planned to suspend its "infusion services department" starting on May 1 as part of its ongoing effort to control costs. And in May 2017 the hospital announced  it would close its obstetrics department later in the year, citing heavy losses due to a decline in baby deliveries since 2007. The closure of the obstetrics department sparked an outcry from local residents in September that was followed by a letter in November from Calais City Council to Maine's congressional delegation requesting financial support for the regional hospital.

"The board made the decision based on the best direction for the hospital,” Calais Regional Hospital Board Chairman Ronald McAlpine said, according to a report in The Quoddy Tides

The Quoddy Tide reported the termination of the management agreement is expected to provide “an immediate cost savings” for Calais Regional Hospital, which is retaining as hospital employees CEO Rodney Boula and CFO Diane Maheux, who were both formerly contract employees of Quorum.

The biweekly newspaper also reported that the hospital “will continue utilizing Quorum with a new three‑year contract for group purchasing, education for board and staff through online resources and ‘other consulting services on an as‑needed basis.’”

Nurses: 'Better late than never'

In a June 5 news release, the Maine State Nurses Association, applauded the decision to end Quorum’s management services contract with the hospital.

“It is long past time that we got rid of Quorum,” Maureen Hayward, RN and MSNA Chief Steward at CRH, said in the news release. “We wish this had happened a long ago, but better late than never.”

The association characterized the announcement as a “big victory for Calais Regional Hospital employees and the community,” adding that the Tennessee-based for-profit company’s management fee of nearly $1 million per year “should have been spent locally, on patients who deserve access to full services.”

“Today’s news shows that what we have been saying all along is true: Quorum takes more from our hospital and our community than it gives,” MSNA stated in its release. “Calls for changes in Calais Regional Hospital’s relationship to Quorum have grown louder over the past year, since the hospital announced its plans to close its obstetrics unit. In response, the Calais City Council unanimously passed a vote of “no confidence” in the hospital’s board of directors and called on them to resign. Since last summer, CRH has also closed its Cardiac Rehab department and also the “Rose Room,” an outpatient infusion center serving chemotherapy patients and others.”

DeeDee Travis, vice president of community relations at Calais Regional Hospital, disputed the MSNA's characterizations of the status of the hospital's cardiac rehabilitation department and outpatient infusion center.

"CRH has not closed Cardiac Rehab," she wrote in an email to Mainebiz. "We only discontinued the Phase III service, but have continued to offer Phase II. Our infusion services have only been suspended at this point to allow us time to improve our finances, not closed."

“We have a long way to go to rebuild our hospital’s relationship to our community," Hayward stated in the MSNA release. "But this is a good first step.”

MSNA President Cokie Giles, RN, agreed, adding: “The Maine State Nurses Association believes that everyone deserves a single high standard of safe, therapeutic care in their own community. Getting rid of Quorum in Calais means one less obstacle toward meeting that goal.”

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