Obstetrics phasing out to expand other services
Bridgton Hospital is refocusing its resources to expand healthcare services that will have the most impact on the health and well-being of the community.
Demographic and other trends call for a greater investment in areas including pediatrics, primary care, cardiology, orthopedics, urology, podiatry, general surgery, gynecology and gastroenterology. As the hospital deepens its focus on those areas, it will be phasing out its obstetrical services effective Sept 17.
“We did not come to this point easily, but ultimately it’s the right choice for our community to put our resources towards areas of greater need,” said Peter J. Wright, FACHE, president of Bridgton and Rumford Hospitals. “It’s clear that we need to invest in these areas and expand access to these services for the communities we serve.”
Wright noted that Bridgton Hospital is not unique in having to make such a decision on its obstetrical services. Hospitals across Maine and in rural areas around the country have faced the same situation over the past decade.
Bridgton Hospital team members have notified each of its active obstetrics patients about the change.
“Amy Dugas, our region clinic director, and I personally called each patient to share the news, help them understand the changes and when appropriate, explain what options expecting parents had moving forward. We felt it was important that they hear this very personal news from Bridgton Hospital leadership,” Wright said.
“It is a difficult decision,” said John L. Alexander, MD, MHCM, FACEP, chief medical officer for Central Maine Healthcare. “But the low volume of births taking place at the hospital was a critical factor. We feel it’s the best decision to ensure we continue best practices and meet our obligation to provide safe, high-quality care that matches the needs of the community.”
Annually, Bridgton Hospital delivers only about 50 babies – roughly 30% of deliveries in its service area. In addition to financial stress, low volume creates staffing challenges.
Already, most Lakes Region families are choosing other hospitals to deliver their babies (Stephens Memorial in Norway; Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H.; Maine Medical Center and Northern Light Mercy, both in Portland; CMMC and St. Mary’s in Lewiston). Those options are located conveniently for the community and a couple of them are less than 30 miles away.
This decision was made only after a comprehensive examination by a multidisciplinary committee made up of medical staff, administration, clinical leadership and the guidance of a national expert on hospital operations. The committee thoroughly reviewed and analyzed the market, known and accepted clinical competencies, potential risk and finances. Based on their work, the operating committee formulated a recommendation that Bridgton Hospital leadership reviewed with system physician chiefs and the Central Maine Healthcare Board of Directors, who ultimately approved the decision.
Staff who work in the OB/GYN clinic will be offered positions with similar duties elsewhere in the Bridgton market and will also have options elsewhere in the health system. Nurses who provide obstetrical services are part of the hospital’s overall inpatient staffing and will remain in their positions.
“We are grateful for the dedication and compassionate care our team members have provided to obstetrics patients and their contributions to a very special part of the hospital’s work,” Wright said. “We hope that they will stay on at Bridgton Hospital to serve our communities in different and important ways as we adapt to meet the changing needs of our patients.”
Hospital officials are looking at how Bridgton Hospital can continue to serve expectant families. They are in discussions about a possible collaboration to provide a pre-natal clinic on the Bridgton Hospital campus, with babies delivered at the other organization’s maternity ward.