Born out of the St. Andrews Hospital Task Force

In early August of 2012, Lincoln County Healthcare announced that they would be closing the Emergency Room and the hospital beds at St. Andrews Hospital in Boothbay Harbor Maine.  This reduction in services would, effectively, eliminate the hospital…changing the facility to an Urgent Care Center and relinquishing the valuable Critical Access Hospital designation.

St. Andrews Hospital in Boothbay Harbor has been serving the residents and visitors on the Boothbay peninsula for 107 years. On October 1st, 2013, it will become a walk-in Urgent Care Center.

St. Andrews Hospital in Boothbay Harbor has been serving the residents and visitors on the Boothbay peninsula for 107 years. On October 1st, 2013, it will become a walk-in Urgent Care Center.

The affected towns of Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Southport, and Edgecomb, in the County of Lincoln, formed the St. Andrews Task Force by interlocal agreement and resolved to work collaboratively through the Task Force. This was the first time in the history of our peninsula that all four towns engaged in such an effort. A Selectman from each town volunteered to serve on the Task Force:

  • Chuck Cunningham, Boothbay (Task Force Chair)
  • Valerie Augustine Young, Boothbay Harbor
  • Stuart Smith, Edgecomb
  • Smith Climo, Southport

Jim Chouasis, the Town Manager of Boothbay moderated the meetings and the Town of Boothbay provided meeting space and library space and photocopying services. Over 100 community members volunteered and joined the Task Force. They formed subcommittees that worked tirelessly to collect facts, to disseminate information, to research how other community hospitals remain viable, and to try to convince MaineHealth to change its plans to close down our hospital.

Stuart Smith, Edgecomb; Valerie Augustine Young, Boothbay Harbor; Chuck Cunningham, Boothbay, (Chair); Smith Climo, Southport; Jim Chaousis, Boothbay Town Manager (Moderator)

Gathered Community Members’ Needs & Analyzed Our Health Data

As part of our needs assessment process, Task Force Volunteers:

  • Interviewed 50 community members in depth and published a summary of those findings.
  • Analyzed the health conditions embedded in those 50 interviews
  • Analyzed the population health data for our region

The community speaks

Studied 11 Other Rural Hospitals in Maine

A group of Task Force Volunteers met with the executive teams of 11 other Critical Access Hospitals across Maine to study and learn from them. The management teams from these hospitals were very candid and helpful and have continued to support our team in answering questions and providing follow-on information. The 11 hospitals we visited included:

  1. Mount Desert Island Hospital (which has pioneered in Mental Health services and in ER training)
  2. Blue Hill Hospital whose physicians have become the primary care physicians for many seasonal residents
  3. Rumford Hospital, which offers amazing cardio and pulmonary rehab services
  4. Bridgton Hospital, which offers walk in Urgent Care with extended hours for people without primary care physicians (or those who need after hours treatment)
  5. Houlton Hospital, which has a very successful Wellness program, which it is considering rolling out to community members
  6. C.A. Dean Hospital in Greenville which has a robust population of nursing home patients in its Swing Bed program to make effective use of their 25-bed license in a town with a small population
  7. Mayo Hospital in Dover Foxcroft whose CEO advised us to focus on an underserved niche, such as mental health
  8. Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln which makes good use of telemedicine for trauma
  9. Redington Fairview Hospital in Skowhegan which provides diabetes outreach as well as cardio and pulmonary rehab
  10. Sebasticook Hospital in Pittsfield which does proactive outreach to summer camp nurses and hosts an annual community health fair
  11. Down East Community Hospital in Machias in Telemedicine, including TelePediatrics, TeleNeurology, TeleTrauma
Bridgton Hospital

Bridgton Hospital is one of 11 rural Critical Access Hospitals in Maine we visited.


The Battle to Save what is Left of St. Andrews Hospital on the Boothbay Harbor Campus

From 2012 through 2014, members and supporters of the Wellness Foundation have been actively lobbying Maine DHHS, the Attorney General, the Governor, CMS/Medicare, and our legislators to slow or reverse the progress of dismantling St. Andrews Hospital, removing the 24×7 ER, removing all the patient beds, relocating our Critical Access Medicare license to Damariscotta, reducing the number of patient beds in Damariscotta, and reducing the number of hospital beds in Lincoln County from 62 to 25, while leaving the Boothbay peninsula residents with no skilled nursing beds. There is now a shortage of nursing and rehab beds in Lincoln County and in Maine.

For more details about the two Certificate of Need Hearings we have had in Boothbay Harbor (Dec. 2013 and August 2014) and for updates on the ongoing saga of what will happen to the former hospital and land that were deeded to the community non-profit: St. Andrews Hospital, please visit our section on Save St. Andrews Hospital.

Community Volunteers Formed a Strategic Plan for Health & Wellness on our Peninsula

The volunteers gathered so much valuable information about community health services that other small rural hospitals were providing, they began to ask themselves: “Why can’t we do this?”

The idea for the Foundation emerged as a vehicle to ensure that the services we all need are affordably available to us on our peninsula, for example:

  • 24-hour Care and enough local hospital beds—Assuring  24-hour care and stabilization to people in crisis on the Boothbay Peninsula and the nearby islands.
  • Mental Health — Make sure that people who are depressed or who suffer from other mental illnesses get the immediate care they need on the peninsula.
  • Substance Abuse — Break down the denial about the multi-generational substance abuse cycle that exists here, and provide counseling and recovery services. We also want to provide group support for family members and to integrate these support programs within our schools.
  • Kids at Risk/Healthy Kids  —Ensure that our kids grow up healthy and happy in a supportive environment
  • Womens’ Health —Provide a facility where any woman of any age can walk in and ask questions and get help, for everything from birth control to menopause to domestic violence.
  • Wellness Program— Offer an affordable wellness program to encourage us all to become proactive managers of our own health and nutrition.
  • Routine Critical Care —Make sure that everyone who needs chemotherapy, infusion services, or wound care has it available to them on the peninsula.
  • Elder Care—Provide and coordinate all the services that our elder population needs: from gerontology to things like hearing aids, eye care, podiatrists. Promote the “Maine Approach” to support elders living their lives to the fullest in the comfort of their homes, using technology, social networking, life management and volunteering.

The Foundation is a vehicle to support these and other health and wellness programs that people in our community want and need. We will raise money, apply for grants, and work with providers to bring these and other needed services to our community. Membership is open to everyone on the peninsula.

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