BRUNSWICK — Parkview Adventist Medical Center has filed for bankruptcy and will shut down its emergency room Thursday.

Longtime competitor Mid Coast Health Services, parent of Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, plans to take over the hospital.

Parkview announced Tuesday that it has filed for Chapter 11 and has proposed to the court that Mid Coast buy the hospital and assume some of its debt.

Mid Coast will pay “several millions of dollars” for the 55-bed hospital, said George Marcus, the lawyer handling Parkview’s bankruptcy.

The plan calls for Parkview and the 92-bed Mid Coast Hospital to consolidate inpatient and emergency services on the Mid Coast campus at Cook’s Corner and to use Parkview’s campus for doctor’s offices, a walk-in clinic, testing, surgery, oncology, hematology, infusion services, physical, occupational and speech therapy services and community health and wellness programs.

Parkview will close its emergency room and acute inpatient care at 8 p.m. Thursday. 

Under the plan, all part-time and full-time Parkview workers will be asked to join the newly combined medical facility. No employees will lose their jobs, hospital officials said.

Although Mid Coast is a secular organization and Parkview is religious, the plan calls for “the preservation of the Adventist mission on the Parkview campus,” according to a statement released by Parkview on Tuesday.

Parkview and Mid Coast leaders said they hope the consolidation will improve quality, contain costs and make the patient experience better.
“Parkview’s overarching intention in this Chapter 11 filing is to further and preserve its mission to provide Maine-based, high-quality health care. The Chapter 11 is really a tool to achieve that end. Patients come first. The community comes first,” Marcus said.

Parkview and Mid Coast have been rivals for years. Most recently, in 2012, Mid Coast leaders bitterly fought Parkview’s proposal to merge with Central Maine Healthcare, the parent of Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, saying the Brunswick area was too small to support two medical centers and Parkview should merge with Mid Coast.

During the monthslong battle, each side claimed the other was resorting to distortion, negativity and scare tactics to sway public opinion. In a newspaper ad at the time, Parkview said, “Enough is enough.”

Central Maine Healthcare eventually withdrew its proposal to take over Parkview, though the two maintained a less-formal partnership, with CMHC providing the small hospital with financial help and staffing.
CMHC spokesman Chuck Gill said Tuesday that CMHC leaders knew nothing about the bankruptcy or proposed sale and only learned about it when they started getting emails from CMHC employees working at Parkview on Tuesday.
Parkview has been losing money for years, including $2.5 million last year. Mid Coast Health Services spokesman Steven Trockman, speaking on behalf of both Parkview and Mid Coast, said Parkview reached a point where it could no longer fulfill its mission as a stand-alone hospital.

In a statement provided through Trockman, Parkview President Randee Reynolds said Parkview’s board chairman — thinking of the small hospital’s “extreme financial condition” — reached out to Mid Coast’s CEO in late May.

“This is all about serving the needs of our patients,” Reynolds said. “For the good of the community, this vision will preserve the mission of two beloved local institutions for generations to come, as well as numerous jobs in the Bath-Brunswick-Topsham area.”
Maine hospitals are typically required to get state approval to merge. However, Parkview’s lawyer believes that is not necessary in a situation that involves bankruptcy and sale rather than merger.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services said it is monitoring the sale to ensure patient safety and compliance with state and federal laws.

Town officials said they were sad to see Parkview file for bankruptcy but pleased that Brunswick’s two hospitals were consolidating. They believe it will be good for the community.

“The combined resource of Parkview and Mid Coast being put together in a different way to provide service will end up positioning us in a strong way for people who want to receive health care services,” said Linda Smith, Brunswick’s business development manager. “I don’t see this as a losing game.”

Although a number of small and rural hospitals across the country are struggling financially and closing their doors, hospital bankruptcies in Maine are rare. The last bankruptcy that Maine Hospital Association leaders can remember happened in the late 1990s and involved the Jackson Brook Institute in South Portland, then Maine’s largest private psychiatric hospital.

Wendy Wolf, head of the Maine Health Access Foundation, said Parkview’s bankruptcy is a good opening for communities to discuss their needs and the changing landscape of health care.

She called Parkview’s bankruptcy and sale a “bellwether event” that suggests looming changes to Maine’s hospitals.

“We are in probably the most challenging and significantly changing time in health care in the last 50 years and that is changing how health care is delivered and how it is paid for,” she said. “That’s putting our hospitals and our community health centers under a tremendous amount of stress.”

Marcus said the bankruptcy could take months to complete.

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