The votes are in:
In Southport, Maine, 95% of voters want to keep St. Andrews Hospital's Critical Access Status (24x7 ER + up to 25 beds);
In Boothbay Harbor, 83% of voters said Yes to the same vote.
In Boothbay, 86% of voters said Yes.
Even in Edgecomb, the town furthest away from St. Andrews Hospital and closest to the closest competitor, Miles Memorial in Damariscotta, the vote to retain St. Andrews’ critical access status was still 81%!According to the Selectmen in all 4 towns, voter turnout was double that of last year. Saving St. Andrews brought out the vote, big time! This is quite a mandate. What does it mean? That a SUBSTANTIAL MAJORITY of the voters on our peninsula want to keep our St. Andrews’ 24-hour emergency room along with acute care beds and recuperation beds for those who are too sick to stay home, who need nursing care and want to be near their families.
If 87% of your customers tell you they want a certain product, do you turn them away and close your doors? That’s not very good business, is it?
So tell us why a
nonprofit charitable corporation that was incorporated specifically to provide
a hospital with a 24 hr. emergency room for the people on this rural peninsula
should ignore what its customers want?
Tell us again why a larger nonprofit corporation gets to swoop in and close our hospital down and move most of its services, equipment, and its higher Medicare rural Critical Access reimbursement benefits to another hospital they own--one that is 40 minutes away from us on a bad road??
Tell us again why closing our hospital makes economic sense when its absence will very likely cause our real estate taxes to increase, our jobs to decrease, and cause the number of retirees who have been moving here in droves to go elsewhere and to take their $6 million/year of philanthropy with them, as well as all their local spending in shops, restaurants and home repairs and landscaping.
Most important, what about the many lives that have been saved of people who live and work and vacation on our peninsula and its scores of surrounding islands? What are those lives worth? Our voters obviously give quick, LOCAL emergency care a high priority.
Maybe the doctors on our physician-led Board who made the decision to close our ER should move to the city. They would obviously feel more “comfortable” working in less “frontier” conditions. Their talents and expertise are clearly being wasted in our rural communities. These medical experts insist that a small rural community hospital can't save lives because we don't have enough emergencies, and therefore can’t afford to staff a full trauma center with 5 or 6 specialty doctors.
They’re right. We can’t afford to staff a big city trauma center. And, we don’t need one. We need caring professionals who are our first line of defense when we’re hurting and scared in the middle of the night.
There are many doctors who WANT to practice rural medicine. Many of them have been serving us well for years--as well as scads of Physicians' Assistants, RNs, Nurse Practitioners, Respiratory Therapists, Physical Therapists, and mental and behavioral health professionals. We thank those of you who are already serving us and we welcome more of you! We’d like to become a magnet for training physicians in rural care—particularly during the summer months when we have 22,000 potential patients. That’s what the hospital in Bar Harbor does. Why not Boothbay Harbor?
The question really isn't whether or not having an emergency room and a small hospital in a rural retirement community and booming summer vacation mecca makes sense. The question is who should DECIDE whether or not a rural community can support its own local health and wellness institution? The people in the affected communities? Or the larger corporation that took over the community hospital with a stroke of a pen, never paid a dime for the $20 million asset, and is ignoring the needs and wishes of the people this nonprofit was chartered to serve?
What’s the Bottom Line? We –the voters, the year round residents, the summer residents, the healthcare CUSTOMERS on this peninsula—aren’t giving up. We’re going to win the right to run our own community hospital again.
The beat goes on.