As many of our loyal readers know, I have been involved in the effort to try to save my local Maine community’s hospital for over a year. Unfortunately, on October 1st, our efforts were defeated when our beloved St. Andrews Hospital, which had served our local fishing, tourist, and retirement community so well for over 100 years, closed its doors. The “customer” spin on this sad story is this: if you are a large organization that is attempting to rationalize and improve your operations to be more efficient and deliver better quality and keep profits high, you can’t do that rationalization without engaging with the customers you serve. If MaineHealth, which has owned our community’s hospital for 17 of its 105 years, had engaged with its patients and customers to redesign service delivery options, we might have wound up in the same place—with a walk-in daytime clinic instead of a 24-hour local ER and hospital. But we would have collaborated on reaching that conclusion and in designing the services offered. Instead, the “parent” nonprofit healthcare system surprised its customers by announcing the hospital closure as a fait accompli, triggering 13 months of outraged protests and community activism. The result: a group of customers who are likely to boycott as many of MaineHealth’s newly merged LincolnHealth subsidiary’s services as they possibly can.
Requiem for a Community’s Hospital
How Customers Are Losing Local Healthcare Providers in Rural Communities
By Dr. Judy Stone, Infectious Diseases Physician and Blogger, Scientific American, October 10, 2013
(Read the short sample and download the full article in PDF.)