Last night our small, rural "community" hospital ceased to be. At midnight, St. Andrews Hospital became the Boothbay Harbor campus of LincolnHealth. It offers a walk in daytime clinic, doctors' offices and physical therapy.
A group of citizens worked together for 13 months to try to stop the closure of our hospital, by its parent, MaineHealth in Portland, Maine. We lobbied legislators, hired lawyers, wrote thousands of letters, voted, met with Board members--all to no avail.
Tonight we'll have a peaceful vigil from 8 to 8:30 in the parking lot of the now Urgent Care Clinic, after it has closed its doors for the first time in over 100 years, with flashlights and music (bagpiper, taps, singing and memories)....
I asked for permission for our gathering from the CEO, Jim Donovan. He denied it saying,
"I’m sorry but I cannot grant your group permission to use the St. Andrews parking lot for this purpose for two reasons. First, the St. Andrews ED is not closing. It is converting to an Urgent Care Center that will continue to provide high quality care for the residents of the Boothbay Region. We do not view this as a farewell, at all. Such a gathering will only perpetuate the “St. Andrews is closing” myth that has caused confusion and concern among some members of the community.
And second, having a number of people gathered in our parking lot at night is not a good idea from a risk management perspective. The pavement can be uneven and depending on the weather, maybe slippery and covered with leaves. It is our responsibility to protect people who come onto the property to receive care and to not allow for unnecessary risks. We feel what you are proposing constitutes an unnecessary risk for both members of your group and our property."
Well, as of October 1, 2013, anyone seeking medical care between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. will find the doors to St. Andrews are locked. I call that “closed.” The ED is closed. The urgent care center is open. An urgent care center is not an emergency department.
Mr. Donovan also said that “Such a gathering will only perpetuate the ‘St. Andrews is closing’ myth that has caused confusion and concern among some members of the community.”
St. Andrews Hospital is closing. That is not a myth. A hospital has inpatients and an emergency department. As of October 1, St. Andrews will have neither."
Hopefully, they won't be stupid enough to arrest a bunch of old folks.
You'll be able to follow our saga here.