Council, Union Respond to Hospital’s OB Closure

By Lura Jackson

The Calais City Council and the local representatives from the Maine State Nurses Union have responded to the forthcoming closure of Calais Regional Hospital’s Obstetrics branch with strong statements intended to convey their concerns and that of the public. The statements were made during a City Council meeting on May 25th. 

The city council unanimously passed a vote of “No Confidence” in the hospital board with council member Mike Sherrard declaring that the council “condemns” the move to close the obstetrics unit. The council discussed the role of Quorum Health Resources, the Tennessee-based management firm that advises Calais Regional Hospital for $990,000 a year. “Nobody did their homework when they hired this company,” said Councilor Anne Nixon, referencing the company’s recent financial distress. Mayor Billy Howard said that the hospital just renewed its contract with Quorum for another five years. Councilor Marcia Rogers said that Downeast Community Hospital successfully broke their contract with Quorum and they “are flourishing now,” suggesting that Calais Regional Hospital may be able to do the same. 

Speaking as a representative of the Maine State Nurses Union, Beth Boomer stated: “We, as a union, want the hospital Board of Directors that serve our community to make decisions to benefit our rural community instead of decisions that benefit Quorum, which is an out-of-state, for-profit corporation, and its shareholders. 

“We can’t, as a union, stand by silently and allow our community to be negatively impacted. We ask that the board members provide financial information and details that warranted this decision. In the last few years, Calais Regional Hospital has closed the following departments: Intensive Care Unit, Special Care, Pediatrics, and now, Obstetrics.

 

“We, as a community, can’t afford to lose anymore.”