LEWISTON — Central Maine Medical Center’s status as a verified Level II Trauma Center lapsed in June 2012, but it has since continued to market itself and advertise to hire physicians claiming that verification is intact.
Chuck Gill, vice president of marketing at Central Maine Healthcare, said he was not aware the advertisements and marketing materials continued to make that claim.
“We’ll correct it,” he said. “If there’s anything we have in a website or anything, we have to make sure it’s correct.” He said that at the time these claims were made, the hospital was a verified Level II Trauma Center.
The hospital’s verified status with the American College of Surgeons expired last year, but the hospital asked ACS to put off re-verification when all four of its trauma surgeons, including the program’s director, left around that time.
Since then, and most recently on July 12, 2013, the hospital has claimed verified Level II status when advertising for a board-certified trauma and critical care surgeon in the Journal of the American Medicine Association job search site and the hospital’s own site.
Similar advertisements were placed on June 13 on longislandjobs.com, and May 16 on The Lancet careers site seeking a general surgeon with trauma and acute care surgical experience, and on April 5 in the Journal of Trauma.
Hospital recruiters actively seeking to fill the trauma job at CMMC, including St. Louis-based Cejka Search, also list the hospital as a verified trauma center.
And, on the hospital’s website, on the page describing its available emergency services and trauma program, CMMC is described as a Level II Trauma ED that “is verified by the American College of Surgeons as a Level II Trauma Center,” a verification that indicates availability of specialized medical staff and continuing education of trauma team members, among other things.
CMMC’s profile on the American Hospital Directory, last updated in May 2012 before the verification lapsed, lists CMMC as a verified trauma program.
After the ACS verification lapsed, CMMC’s trauma center has continued to operate with visiting surgeons, meeting Maine Emergency Medical Services standards for trauma care.
The Sun Journal was made aware of the hospital’s advertising claims this week by a reader concerned that the hospital may be in violation of state advertising laws. The Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, under Title 10, makes it illegal for an advertiser to cause the “likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval or certification of goods or services.”
Gill said CMMC is recognized as a trauma center through Maine Emergency Medical Services, but it is not verified with ACS.
CMMC recently hired a permanent trauma director and is planning to hire three new surgeons.
The hospital had its ACS verification review last November and is expected to have its on-site review this November to reinstate its Level II verification.
Last month, Jay Bradshaw, director of Maine EMS, said the lack of ACS verification does not affect patient care.
“(Verification) matters, but it’s only one piece of how a hospital in Maine becomes identified within our system as a trauma center,” he said. Although lack of ACS verification can sometimes be a sign that a trauma program has problems, Bradshaw said that isn’t true in CMMC’s case.
Eastern Maine Medical Center is the only ACS verified Level II Trauma Center in Maine.
Maine Medical Center’s verification lapsed earlier this year because of an administrative issue, Maine Med spokesman Matt Paul told the Sun Journal last month; the hospital plans to seek reinstatement next year.