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Partnering for a Sustainable Future in Healthcare

Penobscot Valley Hospital (PVH) and Health Access Network (HAN) are pleased to announce collaboration efforts through a $30,000 Maine Health Access Fund (MeHAF) planning grant. The focus of the grant work is to alleviate and avert the threatened loss of local services and access to care due to a significant downturn in the local economy. The group aims to strengthen the rural healthcare system as a whole.

Members of the planning network include: Penobscot Valley Hospital, Health Access Network, Veterans’ Affairs-Lincoln Community-Based Outpatient Clinic, Lincoln Economic Development Committee and the Save-a-Life Substance Abuse Committee.

The steering committee includes the organizations' CEOs, 2 board members, 4 senior leadership members, VA representatives and members from the participating committees. The goal of the project is to strategically research, review and develop evidence-based models of rural clinical, operational, and/or organizational integration to advance and strengthen the rural healthcare system in northern Maine.

MeHAF grant outcomes include:
1. Analyze different levels of integration
2. Develop viable models for an integrated rural delivery system
3. Improve coordination of care, including with our area veterans
4. Create transition plans to continue to address the community’s healthcare needs

“This grant work comes at a key time for Penobscot Valley Hospital,” states Penobscot Valley Hospital CEO Gary R. Poquette, FACHE. “To combat years of financial losses, our board, leadership and staff have been working for the last two years to redesign healthcare delivery in our community. While change can be difficult, it is necessary in these current economic times. Often times, it can bring about positive change as we have recently seen the addition of new services to meet the needs of our community in orthopedics, pediatric dentistry and gynecology.”

Three key strategies Penobscot Valley Hospital leadership have focused efforts on throughout 2016 include:
1. Revenue enhancement and expense reduction – PVH is working to analyze all services to ensure revenue exceeds cost. As demand changes, shifting from inpatient services to outpatient care, PVH is making those necessary adjustments to remain financially viable.
2. Explore viable models of Critical Access Hospital (PVH) and Federally Qualified Health Center (HAN) integration – site visits to three locations in Maine and Vermont have been made to gather integrative approaches including financial, legal and consultative advice.
3. Evaluate the feasibility of affiliation – the Board of Directors has been working to establish framework and guidelines if Penobscot Valley Hospital were to affiliate with a larger tertiary care hospital. Starting this month, representatives serving as ambassadors from PVH and HAN Boards, PVH and HAN medical staff and leadership will be visiting the three tertiary systems in Maine: MaineHealth in Portland, Central Maine Healthcare in Lewiston, and Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems in Brewer. They plan to discuss how past partnerships have looked between tertiaries and Critical Access Hospitals, and what opportunities and improvements might arise for the Lincoln Lakes Region if PVH were to seek a healthcare partner down the road.

“Health Access Network, Penobscot Valley Hospital and the VA share many of the same patients,” states Health Access Network CEO Bill Diggins, RN. “In February, I visited the Lincoln Town Council to discuss the financial struggles in healthcare. Add to that Lincoln’s struggling economic climate and changes at the state and federal levels for reimbursement, and it culminates with a need to assess opportunities for HAN and PVH to remain financially viable. Our mission states that we aim to make a real difference in the health of our community, and we cannot do that without combined efforts from our hospital, VA, and community members.”

While it will be a considerable task, Penobscot Valley Hospital, Health Access Network, Veterans’ Affairs, Lincoln Economic Development Committee and Save-a-Life committee members look forward to collaborating with the community throughout this grant process to redesign the delivery of healthcare to meet the needs of the Lincoln Lakes Region for years to come. 

 

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