Pen Bay makes staff, fiscal cuts
Rockport — To offset an anticipated budget shortfall, Pen Bay Medical Center Interim Director Mark Biscone said job cuts will be required in addition to increasing revenue.
Many of the job losses will be attributed to unfilled positions or retiring personnel who will not be replaced, but one doctor — an oncologist — will be chopped from the staff, he said. To fill the gap created by the loss, a different oncologist from Waldo County General Hospital will see patients at both locations. Biscone said sharing the services of staff results in lower salary and benefit commitments for both hospitals.
"By doing so, it will reduce expenses," he said.
There are about a half dozen positions affected, with a number of them in administration. Patients should not notice any changes, Biscone said, as the nursing services saw very few fiscal cuts.
"Everybody chipped in a little here and a little there," Biscone said.
For five of the past seven years, Pen Bay has operated at a loss, taking in less money than it spends, according to Biscone.
He said spending reductions to the tune of $2 million have been mapped out and efforts already have proven successful. The hospital should be able to "at least break even" by Sept. 30, Biscone said. There are a number of physical plant issues that also need to be addressed which could potentially lead to cost savings, ranging from replacement of boilers and electrical work to switching heating fuel type, he said.
Biscone said he also is working to prepare for the impacts of the Affordable Care Act, which will increase in coming years to a total $15.5 million loss for Pen Bay.
"This is very serious," he said.
There are several options being considered to increase revenue at the hospital, he said, ranging from increasing use of the hospital's retail pharmacy to increased enrollment in the sleep lab programs. Consolidation of several services to a regional approach will also help save the hospital money, he said, adding home health care agencies will be regionalized and Maine Behavioral Health will take over management of the psychiatric care unit at Pen Bay. Refinancing of bonds issued in 2004 will also result in savings, he said.
April 30, Biscone hosted open discussions with Pen Bay staff and employees to outline the issues facing the hospital as well as the plans to address those issues.
According to information provided by Biscone, Pen Bay is not alone in suffering operating loses — 60 percent of hospitals operate in the red.
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at email@example.com.
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.
Stephanie also was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has nearly a decade of experience in the newspaper business ranging from southern and central Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and chickens.