Calais Hospital Forced to Cut in Wake of Funding Loss

Apr 18, 2014

Calais Regional Hospital is cutting hours for 90 employees and eliminating two special care rooms. The hospital faces a funding loss of more than half a million so far this year.

Chief Financial Officer Nancy Glidden said Calais Regional Hospital has seen a big drop in outpatient services in recent months, due to bad weather, a short flu season, and changes in reimbursement.

"The changes in Medicare enrollment - we've seen some decline in our Medicaid business because of eligibility changes," she said. "And as you know, there's no Medicaid expansion on the horizon at this time."

To ensure a break-even budget by the end of the year, the hospital recently cut 800 employee hours per week. Four positions were eliminated, and other jobs switched from full time to part time.

Chief nursing Officer Cheryl Zwingman-Bagley said the hospital is also eliminating its special care rooms, which were only used for about 80 patient days last year. "It required us to have a specially-trained nurse on staff 24/7," she said.

The hospital is taking other steps to boost its financial stream, from conservation measures to hiring two pediatricians and a family practitioner. The Maine Health Access Foundation's Wendy Wolf said primary care isn't typically a money maker.

"But it does help encourage the involvement of younger families and individuals to build relationships with health care systems," Wolf said.

Calais Hospital has received a Top Rural Hospital award the past two years from the Leapfrog group, which recognizes quality and safety. Hospital officials hope that designation will also increase use of their hospital.