FARMINGTON — Franklin Memorial Hospital intends to apply to become a Critical Access Hospital, a plan that would reduce its bed count from 65 beds to 25 beds.

There will be a public forum from 5-6 p.m. June 28 in the Bass Room at the hospital that will include an overview of the proposal and a question and answer period.

Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington intends to apply for Critical Access Hospital status and if approved, reduce its bed count from 65 to 25. Franklin Community Health Network photo

The 65-bed hospital is fully qualified and accredited to handle a broad range of medical, surgical, pediatric and diagnostic services, according to the Franklin Memorial Hospital website. 

“Transitioning to Critical Access Hospital status is a vital step for the future of Franklin Memorial Hospital,” according to Barbara Sergio, president of Franklin Community Health Network, which includes Franklin Memorial Hospital. “It will empower us to adapt to the evolving health care landscape, improve our financial stability and continue delivering exceptional care to our rural community. This decision underscores our unwavering commitment to patient-centered health care and positions us for continued growth and success.”

Ryan Marie Mastrangelo, director of communications and public affairs, wrote, “The strategic decision aligns with our commitment to addressing the changing needs of our community and maximizing the resources available to us.”

By applying for Critical Access Hospital status, Franklin Memorial Hospital will benefit from increased federal reimbursement for the true cost of delivering care. As a rural health care provider, the hospital faces “unique challenges” in providing service to the community.


“This change will ensure that our hospital receives appropriate financial support, allowing us to sustainably offer essential health care services to our patients,” Mastrangelo wrote.

As part of the transition, the hospital will apply for a new hospital license and decrease its official bed count from 65 to 25, per Critical Access Hospital guidelines.

“This change allows FMH to optimize its operational efficiency and focus on providing patient-centered care in our community,” she wrote. “The daily patient census currently hovers around 25, so the decrease in bed count will have little to no effect on day-to-day hospital operations. It will not limit access nor be a downgrade for the facility.”

The reduced bed count will further encourage the hospital to strengthen partnerships with other health care providers in the community, Mastrangelo wrote.

“By collaborating with outpatient clinics, home health care agencies, and other facilities, the hospital will create a network of care that ensures patients receive appropriate treatment at the right level of care and enhance access to health care services for the community it serves,” according to Mastrangelo.

In order to protect small, financially vulnerable hospitals, Congress created Critical Access Hospitals as part of the Rural Hospital Flexibility Program in 1997. The program is designed to help states improve access to health care services in rural areas through the development of limited service hospitals and rural health networks, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Among the criteria a hospital must meet to be designated as a Critical Access Hospital are:

• Located in a state that has established with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a Medicare rural hospital flexibility program;
• Located in a rural area;
• Provide 24-hour emergency care services;
• Average length of stay of 96 hours or less;
• More than 35 miles from a hospital or another Critical Access Hospital or more than 15 miles in mountainous terrain or only secondary roads (or) certified by the state as being a necessary provider of health care services to residents in the area (the provision allowing states to waive the distance criteria via state “necessary provider designation” was repealed on Jan. 1, 2006); and
• Critical Access Hospitals may operate up to 25 beds.

Through critical access hospital designation, hospitals are reimbursed at 101% of allowable costs by Medicare. MaineCare reimburses Critical Access Hospitals 117% of costs solely for the purpose of reimbursing the hospitals for the MaineCare “match” as a result of the MaineCare program’s hospital tax and match initiative. Cost-based reimbursement does not apply to all services supported by the hospital but allows hospitals to continue to subsidize many of these services that lose money, according to Maine CDC website.

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