TOPSHAM — Two Maine hospitals have locked horns over a proposed Topsham health care facility and are trying to sway public opinion to their side.

Lewiston-based Central Maine Healthcare’s proposed ambulatory surgery center at the Topsham Fair Mall would have two operating rooms and four procedure rooms. It would offer specialties including ear, nose and throat, urology, general surgery, sports medicine, plastic surgery and other basic outpatient services.

Brunswick-based Mid Coast-Parkview Heath has argued the facility isn’t needed.

Topsham Selectman David Douglass said Central Maine Healthcare reached out and asked to present project plans to selectmen. When that presentation appeared on selectmen’s Aug. 20 meeting agenda, it prompted about 20 emails from residents urging selectmen to oppose the proposal. One email was in favor, Douglass said.

Douglass said Lois Skillings, the CEO and president of Mid Coast-Parkview, have asked to make a rebuttal.

Douglass has said selectmen are not taking a position on the project or voting on it in any way. He said the center would be reviewed by the planning board.

“Our plans are to continue to make presentations to educate the general public about what we’re trying to do to extend our mission; to extend our capabilities to provide care locally at high quality and affordable costs in a convenient manner,” Central Maine Healthcare President and CEO Jeffrey Brickman told selectmen on Aug. 20.

On Thursday, Skillings told selectmen that the proposed surgery center duplicate services already available in the Midcoast, and that it would disrupt health care delivery in the region. It would also deliver a significant financial blow to Mid Coast-Parkview Health that would raise local health care costs, she said.

Surgery and X-ray are the only parts of health care that make any contribution margin at all, “and when that is taken away from the comprehensive health care system, it leaves the health care system with only the parts of the system that are not paid,” Skillings said.

Before opening the center, Central Maine Healthcare must receive approval for a certificate of need from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The public hearing for that application closed on Aug. 21.

Jackie Farwell, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said Central Maine Healthcare’s proposal drew 150 comments from the public. The department will prepare a preliminary analysis that will be released to the public for another 10-day comment period.

“We would expect further comments during that period, then, barring any action on the part of either party, the Commissioner would reach a decision,” Farwell said Friday. “There is no set timeline for that decision.”

This is not the first time Mid Coast-Parkview Health, formerly Mid Coast Health Services, has squared off against Central Maine Healthcare during such a review. In 2012 both submitted applications for a certificate of need from DHHS to assume operations at Parkview Adventist Medical Center in Brunswick.

Ultimately, Mid Coast Health won that battle and merged with Parkview in 2015.


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