LEWISTON — A nurse at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center is going out on her own to re-create at least part of the hospital’s soon-to-close weight management program.

Cindy Scribner

Cindy Scribner, a nurse practitioner who has worked for that weight management program for two years, is looking for space to set up NorthStar Wellness Group. She plans to start by offering 16 to 20 educational and support groups each week, with the addition of nutritional counseling soon after.

She may add a medical component in the future.

Scribner’s center will in some ways mirror St. Mary’s center — a program that helps people lose weight through a customized mix of medical supervision, nutritional advice, behavioral changes, exercise, medication and support groups.

St. Mary’s will end its program Aug. 25, hospital officials said in a statement June 6. They declined to say exactly why.

The news shocked and dismayed many patients, some of whom have asked St. Mary’s to reconsider.

If St. Mary’s wouldn’t keep the program going, Scribner decided, she would start her own.

“I just see how much good it does,” she said. “I really love working with people and seeing what happens, the magic of the groups that we do, and hearing back from patients how much has changed for them in the time that they’ve been coming.”

Scribner began at St. Mary’s in 2009. She worked in orthopedics until 2016, when she moved to the weight-management program. She’s also runs NorthStar Coaching, a lifestyle coaching business, and recently completed a certification course to teach mindful living and mindful eating.

Scribner believes about 10 staff members will lose their jobs at the St. Mary’s weight-management center. She said St. Mary’s has invited the employees to apply for other jobs within the hospital system.

Rather than look for a new job at St. Mary’s, Scribner decided to strike out on her own. She believes other people will join her.

“I really want to do this,” she said. “I have five other trusted, experienced weight-management professionals who are interested in being involved in this project.”

Scribner began making her plans public this week. She’s started to hear from St. Mary’s patients.

“The majority are just thrilled that we’re going to keep going,” she said.

For some patients, however, payment could be an issue at the new center. Many health insurers pay St. Mary’s for its program, but Scribner’s center may not have that option.

“One of the concerns is we’re going to have a different team and model and that always affects everything,” she said. “But I’m really working hard to not make it cost (patients) more. It may be a different payment model, where they pay in and they submit to their insurance and get reimbursed, or take it out of a health care spending account, but it should be about the same cost to them. ”

Scribner is looking at possible locations for her center, including sites in Lewiston and Auburn. She plans to keep people updated through a NorthStar Group Facebook Page. She can be reached at (207) 312-1518.

It is unclear how many people use the St. Mary’s program. A St. Mary’s spokesman previously told the Sun Journal he did not know how many patients or staff members would be affected by the weight-management center’s closure, but he estimated that it would be “a small number.” However, patients and employees have said the center has 300 to 500 patients. Scribner believes it serves about 450.

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