FARMINGTON — Franklin Community Health Network’s first year as part of the Portland-based MaineHealth System has resulted in cost savings, shared resources, successes and challenges, said Rebecca Arsenault, president and chief executive officer.

Arsenault presented an update to the community at FCHN’s annual meeting Monday at Franklin Memorial Hospital.

While the financial picture for many small, rural hospitals is very challenging, changes undertaken and a positive financial margin for the past four months will likely reduce an anticipated $3 million operating loss to $700,000 this year, she said. A new fiscal year began in September.

FCHN is on the right track to meet a promise to MaineHealth to operate in the positive by 2016, said Joseph Bujold, past chairman of the board of directors.

“Rural hospitals are closing at a high rate but we’re not in that category,” he said. “We’re nowhere near to closing.”

The financial situation remains a challenge, Arsenault said. Reimbursement levels for care have declined and the volume of patient care has also gone down, she previously said.

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FCHN includes Franklin Memorial Hospital, Franklin Health, Evergreen Behavioral Services, Healthy Community Coalition and NorthStar ambulance service. It serves a local population of about 40,000.

The organization is in the forefront of creating a new medical delivery model as it transitions from a “fee for service to an accountable care organization,” Bujold said.

Successes realized this past year include an expansion of cardiology and wound care services, Arsenault said.

Clinical social workers can provide care in a doctor’s office, she said. The resource is right there — one-stop shopping for patients seeing their physician, she said.

For the fifth consecutive year, the hospital was named one of the most wired hospitals, and the Martha B. Webber Breast Care Center earned two national certificates within eight months, she said.

Twelve new providers and new services were added.

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A special diagnostic service for cardiac patients became available at FMH this year. Previously patients had to travel to Lewiston, Portland or Augusta for it, she said.

Evergreen Behavioral Services now provides mental health services to inmates of Franklin County Detention Center in Farmington, she said.

Challenges include regulatory burdens such as the transition to a new medical coding system, which is being done nationwide, she said.

Recruitment and retention of doctors and nurses as more staff seek retirement remains a continual challenge, she said.

Arsenault praised the dedication and loyalty of the FCHN staff who have stepped up to “work smarter, harder and to take on new responsibilities,” she said.

Bujold, who has served as chairman for six years, introduced new Chairman Clinton Boothby of Livermore.

The FCHN Community Health Leadership Award was presented to Dr. Connie Adler, “a family medicine physician specializing in women’s health who has practiced medicine in Maine for 32 years,” Arsenault said.

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