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Updated: September 25, 2023

Franklin Memorial Hospital to apply for critical access hospital status

brick building parking lot cars COURTESY / FRANKLIN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL Being a critical access hospital could be a significant step toward ensuring future financial sustainability and the ability to provide high-quality care to the rural community.

If Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington becomes a critical access hospital, officials believe the facility would take a significant step toward ensuring financial sustainability and the ability to provide ongoing high-quality care. 

“Transitioning to critical access hospital status is a vital step for the future of Franklin Memorial Hospital,” said Barbara Sergio, president of the Franklin Community Health Network, which includes FMH. “It will empower us to adapt to the evolving health care landscape, improve our financial stability and continue delivering exceptional care to our rural community.”

person smiling in black blazer
Barbara Sergio

As a rural health care provider, the designation would allow the hospital to receive increased federal reimbursement for the cost of delivering care and to sustainably offer essential health care services, according to a news release. 

As part of the transition, the hospital said it intends to apply for a new license and decrease its official bed count from 65 to 25, in line with guidelines for critical access hospitals. 

The daily patient census currently hovers around 25 anyway, so the decrease in bed count is expected to have little or no effect on day-to-day operations. 

The reduced bed count could result in partnerships with other local health care providers, such as outpatient clinics, home health care agencies and other facilities.

The hospital held a public forum on the application in June and has scheduled a second one Monday, Sept. 25, from 5-6 p.m., in the facility’s Bass Room. 

The hospital decided to pursue the designation after a change in regulatory policy expanded eligibility. Sergio has presented at several select board meetings across Franklin County and beyond to discuss the proposed transition. 

Congress created critical access hospitals in 1997 as a strategy to protect small, financially vulnerable hospitals. The designation is given by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The program is designed to help states improve access to health care services in rural areas through the development of limited service hospitals and rural health networks.

In order to achieve the designation, a hospital must meet certain criteria, including distance from other hospitals. They may operate up to 25 beds.

The designation allows hospitals to be reimbursed at 101% of allowable costs by Medicare. In contrast, MaineCare reimburses critical access hospitals 117% of costs.

Of Maine’s 36 hospitals, 16 have been approved as critical care hospitals. Those hospitals are:

  • Bridgton Hospital
  • Calais Regional Hospital
  • Down East Community Hospital in Machias
  • Houlton Regional Hospital
  • LincolnHealth in Damariscotta
  • Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital
  • Northern Light C. A. Dean Hospital in Greenville
  • Northern Light Mayo Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft
  • Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield
  • Millinocket Regional Hospital
  • Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor
  • Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln
  • Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan
  • Rumford Hospital
  • Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway
  • Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast.

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