Letter to the Editor - Meddybemps; member CRH board of directors

First, I want to emphasize that I am writing this letter as a private citizen.  In no way am I acting as a spokesperson for the Calais Regional Hospital (CRH), although I am a board member.  

I wish to clarify something that appeared on the August 30 and 31 TV Channel 5 news.  Therein a spokesperson for the nurses' union said, "Quorum owns the Calais Hospital."  This is completely untrue.  Although another division of Quorum does own hospitals, it does not own Calais Regional Hospital.  CRH contracts with a Quorem division for specific professional services, and greatly benefits financially with access to tremendous volume discounts for medical/hospital related items.  CRH does not pay Quorum a million dollars a year for services.  Payments include salaries and benefits of the CEO and CFO and costs for professional services.  The benefits received through the Quorum association far exceeds the annual costs.  In purchasing discounts alone, we realize a savings of approximately $300,000 per year.  Getting rid of Quorum is not a solution.  It is a supplier (not an owner) of highly specialized expertise and services.  We would have to expend far greater dollars to individually hire each of the highly specialized consultants available to us through our association with Quorum. This is not some dodgey, uncommon business  practice.  Most small hospitals like CRH have the same arrangements with Quorum or other similar service providers.

It also appears that the nurses' union believes the board tries to keep its members' names secret.  Since I am a relatively new member, my name must not be included on formal lists.  That being said, mine was the first name on the list of directors who signed the full-page Calais Advertiser ad explaining why there was no choice but to close the Obstetrics unit due to underuse and related financial losses that could not be sustained by other departments -- as is the practice in far larger hospitals that are able to absorb such losses without going out of business.   I am not hiding out -- my e-mail is LBaniszeski@myfairpoint.net.

The CRH OB unit closed this past weekend due to Dr. Hatem securing another position elsewhere.  Again the truth surrounding the early closing was distorted at the Nurses' union's event on the 30th.  The possibility of an early closing of the OB unit was explained during the initial announcement to CRH staff.  The target date was year-end 2017; however, one cannot blame Dr. Hatem for taking a new position now.  The board has never engaged in lies or deceit.  

Empty chairs with board members names were also shown on the TV5 news item.  A spokesperson for the union indicated that board members didn't attend because they "just don't care."  Another lie.  It was with great deliberation and soul searching that the board voted to close the OB unit.  Not one of us enjoyed this terrible decision.  My personal reasoning (again, I speak for no one but myself), was that without selective and thorough cost cutting measures, within another year the board discussion would have been about closing the hospital entirely.  I cannot even begin to imagine how it would financially effect Calais, Maine if approximately 240 dependable, good paying positions went away.  Because I care very deeply for the future of our area, as an adult, I had to make a hard decision for the benefit of the larger community.

Finally, I personally did not attend the August 30 event, as I was at the joint meeting earlier in the month between Calais City Council and CRH leadership.  An exchange between these entities was to be based upon a dignified discussion of facts that surrounded eliminating obstetrics services.  Instead, it was apparent from the start that CRH leadership (who initiated the meeting) was invited expressly to take a verbal thrashing from certain individuals.  It was apparent, from the signs and verbiage publicizing the August 30 meeting, that if board members attended it would be one more occasion to cast upon them more public humiliation, disrespect and blame.  

It continues to completely astound me that Calais City Council voted "no confidence" and "a demand that CRH Board members resign" without first having a one-on-one discussion and sharing of facts with the decision makers involved.  

Sincerely,  Linda Baniszeski - Meddybemps; member CRH board of directors