Greg Roraff, president and chief executive officer for Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, addressed the annual meeting of the Castine Community Hospital Corporation on October 25.
As health care reform changes the hospital and patient care landscape, “our physician practice is being turned upside down,” Roraff said.
Some roles in the Castine clinic are going to change, he said.
First, Jinnie Perkins has accepted the voluntary separation incentive offered by BHMH and will retire from her full-time position as office manager on October 31, after 32 years of service. Her position will not be filled, although the center will be able to “lean on” Debbie Jacobs, from the Bucksport Health Center, for management help, said Roraff.
CCHC President Karen Motycka expressed concern that losing staff hours will result in “burn out” for those who remain.
“We’ll listen and we’ll adapt is the only promise I can make,” said Roraff. “We’re asking more of all our people.”
Another change is that, like its sister health centers and hospitals, the Castine clinic will turn toward a “patient-centered medical home,” said Roraff, where a team of health care workers is in charge of patient care. This team includes a physician, but he or she might not be a patient’s first, or even second, contact.
Dr. Marjorie Olivari said that the shortage of primary care doctors everywhere means patients will see more mid-level medical staff.
“It’s going to be work in progress, so I ask your patience,” Olivari said.
But, given that, “I’m going to be there. You’re going to have access to me,” Olivari said.
She also said that Carolyn Brouillard has joined the Castine clinic as a second medical assistant.
Roraff said the changes are “not designed to reduce services here, but to determine what services are needed.” For example, physical therapy services are now offered at the Castine clinic twice a week, partly in response to the needs of Maine Maritime Academy.
“That’s a real success story,” Roraff said.
Roraff also addressed the swirl of news and rumors surrounding BHMH, its development plans and recent purchase of two Parker Point Road properties in Blue Hill.
“There have been a lot of goings on in Blue Hill these days, a lot of misinformation,” he said.
Regarding the two Parker Point Road properties recently acquired by the hospital, Roraff said the buildings “are not of interest,” but the land behind the buildings is, by giving BHMH the option to develop facilities up to Parker Point Road and turn the land behind the Parker Point Road houses into parking, without tearing down the houses themselves.
Roraff also called the recent voluntary separation incentive from BHMH a “win-win situation,” with six individuals stepping forward at a savings to BHMH of $400,000.
With a one million dollar shortfall in the hospital’s budget, it “made a huge difference,” said Roraff.
In response to a trustee’s question, Roraff said that BHMH has no plans to phase out emergency room services and, in fact, a physician will now be on hand at the ER at all times, instead of some hours being covered by physician assistants.
“Health care reform—it’s the right thing to do but its very painful,” he said.
In other business, CCHC re-elected three trustees whose terms had expired and added Jinnie Perkins to the board, bringing its number to a full roster of seven trustees.
Robert Dick, Berna Kaiserian and Karen Motycka were voted in to continue serving as trustees.
President Motycka reviewed the year’s business, noting the closing of two volunteer organizations: the Bagaduce Ambulance Corps and the Bagaduce Area Health Resources.
While the First Responders Service has adequately filled the service gap left by BAC’s closure, Motycka said, the absence of BAHR “has left a void.”
“We still need a group of people to clean and take care of equipment before it is given out,” said Motycka. The medical equipment is stored at the Castine Health Center, who “are helping out when they can.”
She also noted that membership in CCHC is “dwindling down,” and asked those present to “spread the word” to recruit new members.