May 29, 2014

Letters, Camden Herald

May 29, 2014

A true community effort

The Camden Garden Club was pleased to be invited to add our annual Plant Sale, "Plants for Scholars," to the Camden Downtown Business Group's 3rd annual "Business Is Blooming" weekend this year. Our thanks, as well, to the Chamber of Commerce having us join in. Even before all that rain Saturday morning, we were grateful to Allen Insurance & Financial for offering their portico - a central, visible location, and posts for tacking up our banner. As it turned out, having their roof sheltering us was excellent luck. We would have been washed out, but sales were steady through Saturday. We were able to have sales on Sunday as well and the plant sale was a great success. Every year sales of members' donated plants and divisions from their gardens replenish our Scholarship program for area students pursuing horticultural-related degrees. This year, it was a true community effort.

Judith Tarbox

President, Camden Garden Club

 

A time of great change

Our healthcare community today is experiencing a time of great change and opportunity. Across our industry, organizations are exploring ways to gain efficiencies while ensuring they continue to provide high quality services to the people they serve. That is no different at Pen Bay Healthcare.

Pen Bay is committed to our patients and their families. Caring for our community is at the core of all that we do and the decisions we make. While that will not change, we are making changes in how we conduct our business. Not all of these changes will be easy, but they are necessary.

As a member of the MaineHealth system, Pen Bay is continually seeking ways to strengthen our relationships with our member hospitals; Waldo County General Hospital and Lincoln County Healthcare. In the coming weeks and months, we will review all areas of service for opportunities to share resources with the goal of sustaining a healthier community. Our explorations will include new ways to collaborate, forge alliances and unite and advance services such as home health, oncology and behavioral health.

Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital will continue to serve their respective communities. Our aim is to retain clinical services and jobs here in the Midcoast, while at the same time, keep pace with the changing healthcare industry

We welcome your feedback and questions about the work we are doing. Please share any concerns or comments you have with us by calling Administration at 596-8205 or sending a message from our website at penbayhealthcare.org/contact.

We thank our employees for their tireless dedication to their work and we thank our community for their continued support. Together we will take Pen Bay Healthcare well into the future that sustains a healthier community at the lowest cost possible. We are Better Together.

Respectfully,

Mark Biscone, FACHE

Chief Executive Officer

Pen Bay Healthcare

 

I must say something

With the media and some in congress absolutely trashing the VA medical system I feel I must say something. If I lived in Arizona I might not be writing this letter, but I live in Maine and have been getting my health care at Togus for the past twelve years. It is a completely different story here. The care is first rate and the administration is the best I have ever encountered. Doctors and nurses always seem to have time to be thorough and caring, yet somehow stay on schedule. I never have waited to see a doctor or nurse more than ten minutes. The guys I chat with at Togus always seem to be satisfied with the care they receive.

I can say the same for the VA Hospital in West Roxbury, Mass., where I recently had a procedure done. Ditto for The VA Pacemaker Center in Washington, D.C. Until recently I received calls from Shonda there on a pre-arranged schedule to monitor my pacemaker over the phone using a special transmitter supplied by the VA. Shonda always calls me “Hon” and she sends me birthday cards.  Just this week I received a new, higher tech transmitter that will monitor my pacemaker while I am sleeping. I don’t need to do anything. Does that sound like an inferior health care system?

I order my prescriptions on an automated system over the phone. When I call to order a refill the computer voice almost invariably says, “That prescription is due to be refilled on such and such a date”, anticipating the fact that I am about to run out. A thirty-day supply of any medication costs a standard $9, never any more or less. The prescriptions come to me by mail.

The VA operates the nation's largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics, community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers, and other facilities. If I remember right Togus serves 20,000 veterans.

I don’t mean to minimize the problems that have been reported recently and I realize I am talking about routine care, while those who have been neglected need acute care. Corrective action needs to be taken immediately and maybe some people should go. But let’s not tar the whole system with the same brush.

Dave Jackson

Rockport

 

A plant sale thank you

Merryspring would like to thank all of our members and friends who came out to support the Nature Center by shopping at our annual plant sale on May 9-10. We would also like to thank all of the wonderful volunteers, including those from Pop for Change, who helped garden manager Cindy Gerry before, during, and after the plant sale. Thanks also to The Daylily Society, Endless Summer Flower Farm, Fernwood Nurseries, the Green Thumb, Moose Crossing, Plants Unlimited, and everyone else who donated extra plants for our plant sale.

All proceeds from this annual plant sale help to fund Merryspring's educational programs and upkeep of our 66-acre Nature Center. If you missed the sale, you can still support Merryspring by picking out some "special plants" for your garden at Merryspring's greenhouse or at the plant stand outside Cappy's Bakery.

Thank you,

Ray Andresen, President

Merryspring Board of Trustees

 

Staff appreciation thanks

The Camden Rockport PTA and friends would like to thank the following local businesses for their generous donations during May’s Staff Appreciation celebrations at Camden-Rockport Elementary School, Camden-Rockport Middle School, and the MSAD 28 Bus Barn:

Barley Joe Farm Greenhouse, Bella Luna, Boynton McKay, Camden Deli, Camden National Bank, EL Spear, French & Brawn, Foglifters, Green Thumb, Green With Envy, Hoboken Gardens, Jo Ellen Designs, Katrina Pound with Downeast School of Massage, Laugh Loud Smile Big, Mama’s Boys, Marriners, MRC, Mt. Battie Car Wash, Nicole Recht with Camden Maine Massage, Pipsqueaks, Plants Unlimited, Rankins, Sherman’s Book Store, Smiling Cow, Smoothie Shack, Spoon, Owl & Turtle Book Store, Twice Upon A Dream, Waterfront Restaurant, and Zoot.

We were overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness our community demonstrated! Thank you for supporting our schools and the remarkable individuals that touch the lives our children everyday!

With Gratitude from the 2014 PTA Staff Appreciation Chairpersons:

Tracy Cyr

Kerin Lindahl

Wendy Zwecker

Allyson Poutasse

Donna Vix

 

Issues Not Personal Attacks

In the May 22nd Camden Herald Ms. Posson writes to respond to an article written by Ken Frederic, “Do We Really Want Clean Elections.” Mr. Frederic’s article confronts an issue, the personal attack by a Maine political organization (heartless and spineless) on various state legislators. One of those legislators is confined to a wheelchair (spineless?). The point of Mr. Frederic’s article was that voters should be focusing on issues and their relevance to the well being of our state.

How does Ms. Posson respond to this article? She responds with a personal attack on Mr. Frederic. He has attended Tea Party meetings (limited government, more jobs, lower taxes, and personal freedom are obviously bad things). He has testified on controversial issues before the legislature, such as the latest gun control measure, which the majority of both Democrats and Republicans voted against. Included in the attack is an effort to cast suspicion on the entire group that writes the articles under the byline of “Another View.”

Late last year a group of concerned citizens, whose occupations included sales, banking, health care, government workers and business owners, gathered together and decided to meet weekly and discuss relevant state and local issues. This group decided to write articles and submit them to local media for publication. The very byline, “Another View” expresses that they are opinion pieces and are placed on the opinion page of the media. The goal was to express positive thoughts on issues that matter; some of the topics to consider were more jobs, better education, welfare reform (the publisher of the media outlets wrote an article supporting some of these reforms), and unemployment. Mr. Frederic attempted to take a negative personal attack by a political organization and encourage a positive focus on issues.

If Ms. Posson wants to submit her opinions on issues that are different from Mr. Frederic’s article, then that is her right and, in fact, is what Mr. Frederic suggests. However, let us focus on the merits of issues, not personal attack and innuendo.

Dale Landrith Sr.

Camden

 

Unsung heroes

For the past few years our "Unknown dead" cross by our new flagpole has weathered. Each year people come forward at Memorial Day and offer to replace it, yet it doesn't get done. This year we thought we would have to wait again and I was sad to put up the new flag from the town next to that withering cross. I was speechless because I hadn't noticed a brand new one had popped up when I lowered the flag the morning of Memorial Day. During the service I knew someone had done such a loving caring job that I couldn't believe how it had appeared in time for the town service in our cemetery.

It turns out Eric (a veteran) from Brooks Monuments had installed it that morning.

A tattooed man who looked like Vietnam-era I'd never seen before grabbed that cross after the service and shut his eyes tight in prayer. There are so many unknown dead that don't get public recognition to protect their families such as Navy Seals and others that this cross is so important.

The weather was nice, the veterans looked sharp, as did the scouts, the band, the garden club who marched with rakes and shovels and do so much for the town, and all who appreciated the Memorial Day services of Rev. Miller who spoke so well, made for the best Memorial Day ever.

With gratitude,

Beth Berry

Amsbury Hill Old Cemetery Association, Inc.

Rockport

 

What is happening to Pen Bay?

As young physicians we moved here in 1978 from excellent hospitals in the Chicago area. We were impressed by the high quality of Pen Bay's physicians who would be our colleagues. Between us we have proudly practiced a total of 51 years here.

In 2011, when we as incorporators fatefully voted to join Maine Health, we hoped the combined purchasing power of multiple hospitals would produce substantial savings to help Pen Bay's deficit, some of which was due to non-payment of debts by the state. We were assured that our board could be reasonably independent though Maine Health would generally approve decisions they made. Three years later, Pen Bay has increased financial troubles, presumably not helped by levies from the mother ship, Maine Health.

When CEO Wade Johnson left, apparently encouraged to do so sooner rather than later, Mark Biscone, CEO of Waldo County General Hospital, was named interim CEO (suggested by Maine Health?). His appointment shows tremendous insensitivity to our history and community. He covers both hospitals at present. Though Mr. Johnson left in March, the Pen Bay Board has not formed a search committee for a full-time CEO.

Under Mr. Biscone, a truly excellent radiology department and beloved oncologist have not had their contracts renewed. Mr. Biscone says he will replace our full-time cancer specialist, Dr. Ramdin, with a part-time oncologists from Waldo County General Hospital who would work part-time here, robbing us of the full-time presence of our oncologist to care for our cancer patients. He has plans to build a cancer care center in Lincolnville. We have an exceptional cancer center already and truly wonder why we are being forced to downgrade; we also wonder where the money will come from to build a multi-million dollar facility in Lincolnville. The beauty of having a local center is that very weak and ill patients undergoing chemotherapy need not travel long distances by car; it is quite a trip from Friendship or Waldoboro to Lincolnville.

Pen Bay's X-Ray Department is recognized as outstanding by fellow radiologists in the state and beyond. As physicians and now as patients, we have respected their expertise. The physicians are not a financial burden as they are not paid by the hospital. They were informed that their department would have to tender a bid in order to have renewal of their contract and that the other group was Spectrum, a large multi specialty group. We understand that Spectrum frequently fires existing physicians in departments they have taken over, replacing them with their own and supervising remotely from the head office in Portland. Pen Bay X-ray Associates submitted an excellent proposal and summary of their work. This included Dr. Crans' peer selection as top-rated radiologist in the state for Down East Magazine, 36 peer reviewed journal articles by the staff, many derived from research at Pen Bay, numerous, glowing letters from the community, the president of the Radiology Alliance of Maine and doctors who have worked closely with them. A vote taken by the hospital's physician Executive Committee, was 9 to 3 in favor of retaining Pen Bay X-Ray Associates. Yet the Proposal Committee and Mr. Biscone chose Spectrum, a group with no roots in the community. How sad and unfair.

The change to the Epic computer system under Maine Health has not only taken a great financial toll on the hospital, but caused immense frustration for its users. The fees paid to Maine Health far exceed what we were led to believe at Incorporator/Community advisor meetings.

Employed physicians, nurses, technicians and other staff are afraid to speak out. Some of their daily activities are closely monitored by non-physicians from administration in real time — 15 minutes for most primary care evaluations and no more! Physicians have been called during office visits if they exceeded the limit. Imagine a suicidal patient who appears for a 15-minute visit; only the hardened could limit that interchange. Dealing with a heart attack in the office does not take 15, or even 30 minutes. This is an impossible office model with decisions made by non-medical people on a computer. Pen Bay employees are frustrated and stressed by seemingly never ending upheavals; we have not talked to one happy employee. We feel someone must speak up.

If these trends continue, Pen Bay will become a triage station and even fewer from the community will use it.

We are dismayed that joining Maine Health has had such a negative effect on the practice of health care in this community. pen Bay was created to care for the vulnerable and sick of this community; it is not a factory and should not be treated as such. The community deserves transparency, understanding and sensitivity from our board, Mr. Biscone and Mar. Caron, CEO of Maine Health. A hatchet approach to saving money and reducing debt cannot and should not be tolerated. This may be in sync with national trends; that does not make it right. There must be a more civilized, imaginative and creative approach. Is Pen Bay's association with Maine Health really as irreversible as some would have us believe?

Drs. Olaf and Judith Andersen

Owls Head

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