Nurses, Community to Hold Town Hall August 30 On Calais Hospital Proposal to Shut Down OB Department
Members of the Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (MSNA/NNOC) Local Unit 116 and the Calais community are holding a town hall-style meeting on Wednesday evening, August 30 at the Wabanaki Cultural Center and Museum in Calais, Maine at 6:00 p.m.
In May, the Board of Directors of Calais Regional Hospital (CRH) announced its decision to close the Obstetrics Department (OB) on January 1, 2018, claiming financial issues and a decline in the number of births at CRH. The board's decision has prompted widespread criticism from community members and members of the union that represents the hospital's nurses and lab personnel.
The CRH board members have been invited to the town hall meeting to answer questions about their proposed closure of the OB Department.
One of the main issues of contention in this situation is the continuing relationship between the CRH Board of Directors and an out-of-state, for-profit consulting firm called Quorum Health Resources (QHR), which has run CRH since 1992. QHR is a subsidiary of Quorum Health Corporation which was spun-off in 2016 from the troubled hospital chain Community Health Systems (CHS).
QHR has been the subject of a number of lawsuits and investigations regarding allegedly questionable behavior over the past 10 years. Documented short staffing and safety issues by registered nurses at QHC facilities have not been addressed, and instead have been ignored. Also, shareholders from QHC have filed a class action complaint alleging that QHC executive offices made a series of false and misleading statements and failed to disclose appropriately to investors regarding performance at the time of the CHS spinoff.
According to the most recent IRS 990 available (2015), CRH pays QHR nearly $1million dollars per year. Many in the community question the continuation of the relationship between CRH and QHR.
“If Quorum can’t do their job and run the hospital efficiently and in a fiscally responsible way, why do we keep renewing their contract?” said Celia Geel, an expectant mother who plans to deliver her baby at CRH in October.
“There has been very little communication with patients like myself about contingency plans for our care after the OB Department is closed," said Geel. "This is typical of the entire process in which this decision was made. There has been no transparency, no input from the community and no accountability with the hospital that serves us.”
CRH management has announced that once the OB Department is closed, all births at CRH will take place in the emergency room.
“The best plan of care requires a department focused on labor and delivery, apart from the Emergency Department and other units where the general patient population is treated," said Alison Monaghan, RN, Emergency Department. "Although the ER staff will be trained in OB care, we are not OB nurses. We need women's health and obstetrical care to stay here, close to home.”
“I'm just terrified it's going to take something tragic happening for the Board of Directors to realize they've made a huge mistake,” said Gena Maloney, a member of the Calais Community who had her first child late last year at Calais Regional Hospital. "I think it's important that the community know it's not too late for us to stop Calais from moving forward with this dreadful idea.”