Letters, Camden Herald
Overwhelmed by support
We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from all of our friends, family, neighbors, community, and even clients from both the body shop and the sewing business. Be it from cash donations, food, a simple phone call/text/email, a quick visit… all is cherished.
The firefighters and first responders from Rockport, Rockland, Hope, Warren (and even a straggler from Lincolnville; Mike Eugley) were simply unbelievable. It was probably more personal for all, because most of them are not only fellow firefighters, but they are all friends as well. A lot of them had been to our home, some had house-sit, been to our annual memorial day parties, or help build it 32 years ago.
The luck of the draw?? For us was, first of all, we got out alive, (along with our cat Milo). Secondly, Greg and Levi are both on the fire department, and we are within 1,000 feet of the fire station. This made the response time down to a matter of a few minutes. Third; the firefighters' presence was second to none.
Although we will never be able to replace the sentiments of our home -- wood and stone from the family farm, antiques from both sides of the family, photos that are gone forever -- we will always have our memories.
These next few months will be trying at the least. However, we can always call upon all the support from this amazing community. We are probably forever bonded with the Bragg family as they lost their home about 20 minutes later. Sometimes karma does suck. You truly find out who your real friends are.
Appreciate you all.
Greg and Trina Rollins (and Milo)
A sketchy commentary
There have been some interesting Letters to the Editor about impending changes to PBMC staffing. What sadly seems to be lacking is any truly illuminating comment from PBMC’s Board of Trustees, active Medical Staff, Administration, Mr. Frederick (COO) and Mr. Biscone (interim CEO). What has been stated is sketchy commentary concerning deficits and chronic “operating in the red” (not uncommon for a non-profit community hospital anywhere else). Apparently, the last CEO, Mr. Johnson, has “flown the coop” back to Idaho in a cloud of deafening silence.
Like the Drs. Andersen, I am a retired physician who worked 33 years on the staffs of KCGH, CCH, and PBMC starting in 1974. Unlike the Andersens, I was dropped from the PBMC Incorporator roll in the early 21st century for failure to “re-apply” in a timely fashion. (I was recuperating from major surgery.) Never was I a PBMC trustee.
Nonetheless, I maintained an acute interest in the professional status of PBMC’s quality of practice and the success and advancement of its devoted and hard-working personnel. I was a member for decades of the Cancer Care Committee during which a Cancer Registry was established, connections to other treatment modalities not provided at PBMC, participation in research and clinical trials and earning Program Accreditation through the American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society. All of this was accomplished under the skilled leadership of Steve Ross, M.D., Karen Bachman, M.D. and currently Nadia Ramdin, M.D. Every month there is a multi-disciplinary meeting with participation of Oncologists and Radiation Oncologists from Southern Maine Radiation Therapy Institute, Maine General Hospital and Eastern Maine Medical Center where difficult cases are presented and the best treatment protocol for the individual patient is discussed. I still attend these meetings as an observer – to learn.
The provision of medical care to the patients of Knox County was once a “3-legged stool.” One leg had been the Incorporators representing the community (and “owners” of the hospitals). The second leg was the hospitals’ administrators whose job it was to provide a milieu in which good medicine could be practiced. The third leg was the Medical Staff who provided their skills, knowledge and technical input to both the community representatives and the administrators to complete the triad…the main purpose of which was to provide good quality, reliable patient care.
What has changed? For one, the majority of PBMC’s doctors are hospital employees dependent on the institution for paychecks and perks. As proven in the savage reprisals carried out by administrators against nurses who favored an attempt to unionize several decades ago, administrators favoring “benign dictatorship’ may have silenced voices of dissent with fiscal bullying … perhaps. Without input from physicians, the Trustees may have relied too heavily on administrators’ input ... perhaps. Administrators no longer held to task have followed the Business School teachings of the untouchable precepts of achieving The Bottom Line – something not entirely in keeping with a community nonprofit … perhaps. Furthermore, as revealed in Mr. Frederick’s (COO, PBMC) jargon, there may be an enshrinement of Wal-Mart corporate values i.e. “Lean Daily Management” and “associates” and “empowerment.” There may be absorption with managerial thinking to the detriment of humane patient care. Mr. Frederick, they’re called nurses, technicians, therapists and maintenance. They’ve undergone education and training to be where they are. They work hard every day and their dedication is to the well-being of the patients. They are honorable humans in honorable occupations. They most certainly are NOT associates.
Furthermore, while it is comforting to know that Mr. Biscone is committed to “Caring for our community is at the core of all that we do,” it might be helpful to provide a thorough fiscal accounting as to why PBMC is such an economic train wreck. There is rumor on the street that Maine Health is bleeding $2 million per year from PBMC in return for very little other than schlocky commercials. There is also rumor that a rather expensive Cancer Treatment Center to be situated in Lincolnville is in the works. Mr. Biscone, PBMC HAS an excellent Cancer Treatment Center under the management of Nadia Ramdin, M.D.
Finally, PBMC has had contracted radiology services with local radiologists for almost half a century…and they brought us the second CT scanner in Maine and kept it technically updated, early availability locally of MRI and kept it technically updated, PET scanning locally and so many diagnostic and therapeutic services on the cutting edge. YOU canned them for absentee Spectrum Medical Group by Administrative fiat? Why?
There have been so many secretive deals cut between PBMC and private insurers involving re-imbursement for services rendered … perhaps they have gone sour. Don’t blame it on Medicare, ACA and Maine Care. Let’s see ALL the dirty laundry.
Times have been tough. No doubt! Perhaps it is time for openness with the community that is “at the core of all we do.”
C.F. Manning, MD, F.A.C.S
Change is constant
It is said that the only constant in life is change, and healthcare is no different than any other aspect of our lives. Healthcare is undergoing monumental change that will affect how we interact with and participate in it. Change can raise anxiety levels, but in the case of Pen Bay Healthcare the changes we’re making today will not change our commitment to our patients and their safety, and will position us better for the future.
The factors affecting our nation’s healthcare system are numerous and are continuing to evolve. One of the largest impacts is the movement toward Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). This federal initiative for a new payment and quality model of healthcare is based on providers being paid for how they care for the whole patient and for keeping patients well.
Many other factors are influencing changes in healthcare:
· Downward pressure on reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid programs continue to reduce the amount they reimburse physicians and hospitals for services.
· Regionalization strategies provide comprehensive care for patients in a region that wouldn’t be available without working together; some examples include oncology services and cardiac care.
· Employing physicians means healthcare systems can ensure the needed primary care and specialty services are available in a given area, and employed physicians are able to focus on their patients and not on running a business.
· Electronic medical records are powerful tools for physicians and other healthcare providers, but they come with a significant price tag and a learning curve for users.
These initiatives, and many more, are being undertaking by healthcare organizations across the country, including Pen Bay and MaineHealth, to develop a patient-centered system with a goal of achieving the best outcomes at the lowest costs, and all while remaining focused on our core values of high quality, safe patient care.
The announcement of a couple of such efforts at Pen Bay have led to some misunderstandings in our community, which I feel important to speak to.
Pen Bay Healthcare and Waldo County Healthcare are working together to right-size cancer care offered in our region and to provide patients the experience they desire and the care they expect. Cancer care patients, whether they are in the Knox or Waldo County service area, will continue to receive exceptional care. Full-time coverage will continue in both locations through board-certified physician Betsy Connelly, DO, and the nurse practitioner staff. The number of staff and their hours of availability will not be reduced nor will the number of patient visits. Patients will see caregivers in the location that is convenient for them, and they won’t need to travel for comprehensive cancer care, including their treatments. We regret the decisions were made public before we shared it with our cancer patients.
The decision to select a new organization to provide professional imaging services for Pen Bay Healthcare was carefully considered by a committee of three administrators and fourteen medical staff. The current provider group provides professional imaging services to Pen Bay under a contract agreement set to expire this coming December. As part of the contract review process, that began months ago under the former CEO, proposals were solicited, presented and reviewed and the review committee’s recommendation to interim the CEO was to select Spectrum Medical Group for professional imaging services. Our new relationship with Spectrum, which begins in January, will provide Pen Bay Healthcare patients with increased access to subspecialties provided by fellowship-trained physicians, offering services 24 hours a day, which is not something available at this time.
Joining the MaineHealth system has allowed Pen Bay and Waldo to offer numerous community wellness programs, such as Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 and AH! Asthma as well as initiatives that improve care, including having registered nurse chronic care managers in physician practices. Support from the MaineHealth system has enabled Pen Bay to fund 24-hour pharmacy coverage and our critical care remote monitoring program. In addition, by collaborating Waldo County Healthcare and Pen Bay Healthcare are able to share specialists and offer services we wouldn’t otherwise be able to offer in our area, including urology, nephrology, vascular surgery and infectious disease care.
Membership in MaineHealth also saves money. For example, Waldo and Pen Bay realized combined savings of nearly $800,000 in our last fiscal year through a variety of MaineHealth contracts. That savings doesn’t take into account the considerable discount enjoyed as part of MaineHealth on the purchase of major equipment, which can be $200,000-$300,000 on an MRI or CT scanner.
As the 4th generation leader of my family’s 114-year old business, I know change. I know change is about adapting and positioning for the future. I know it’s not always easy and at times it’s quite difficult, but I know it’s necessary to stay relevant to our customers. I bring this same understanding with me to the Pen Bay Healthcare board meetings. Our Board of Trustees has a responsibility to ensure the sustainability of our community’s hospital, and it’s clear that we must continually adapt to ensure a future of high quality patient-centered care for our patients.
In closing, I would like to express my gratitude to the talented Pen Bay staff that care for us so well, and is committed to providing their neighbors with safe, effective quality care, compassionately. As chairman of the Pen Bay Board of Trustees, I know that the entire Pen Bay organization is focused on ensuring the best outcomes for our patients – now and into the future. I am honored to work with this group of dedicated clinicians and administrators who are working together and will work even more closely in the future to adapt to the changing healthcare landscape.
Everett L. Spear, III
Chairman, Board of Trustees, Pen Bay Healthcare
President, E.L. Spear, Inc., Lumber & Hardware, Rockland
I am writing to share community feedback and thank you for publicizing an event that I hosted a couple weeks ago. Yes, it was an eyeopener to some folks that I invited to the Death Cafe in Hope!
What turned out was a great evening of thoughtful discussion, cupcakes and coffee. Stated a participant who emailed me recently, “Everyone at one point or another smiled, got teary, laughed out loud, reflected, shared experiences, asked questions, and in general, had a comfortable, friendly, stress-free evening. The goal of Death Café was to discuss death with no agenda or objective."
The best part of the evening came when folks asked for the schedule for the next one. I plan to publicize the next Death Cafe in July, for an August evening with friends from across the street and from around the world, who knows who’ll be there.
This was a great start, talking about OUR death. You only die once, that much we know. I look forward to the next Death Cafe with your thoughts or questions.
Soup’s On! Season Nine says, “Thanks!”
On behalf of the members and staff of The First Congregational Church of Camden, I extend heartfelt thanks to the 70-plus volunteers who came forth to make the ninth season of our Soup’s On! luncheons such a wonderful success. These are the folks who served as chefs, bakers, wait staff, greeters, set-up and clean-up crew, musicians, and many other important roles -- volunteers not only from our church, but from other churches and the community at large, who so enthusiastically served a total of 1,258 meals to Camden area residents and visitors on Wednesdays between Oct. 30, 2013, and March 26, 2014.
During the course of 17 weeks, a crew of 18 volunteers served an average of 74 guests each week. Guests and volunteers say that the fellowship at the lunches is as important as the delicious soups. As a result of this amazing outreach program, many new friendships have been made over the years.
We would also like to acknowledge the very generous donations of bread to our weekly meals, which came from the Market Basket in Rockport and Fresh Bakery in Camden.
Rest assured, we are already planning for the 10th season, which will convene Wednesday, Oct. 29. Whether you come as a volunteer or a lunch guest, we hope to see you at First Congregational Church of Camden for Soup’s On!