Maine Health’s hospital members orgs consolidate into single nonprofit system

All member hospitals of MaineHealth will fully consolidate as of January 1, the system announced after final approval was given to unify into a single not-for-profit organization. The plan, which has been in the works for the past two years., will add strength and efficiency to the system, officials said. This means that Maine Medical Center, Southern Maine Health Care, LincolnHealth, Coastal Healthcare Alliance, Western Maine Health, Franklin Community Health Network and Maine Behavioral Healthcare will all be governed by a single Board of Trustees. Each local organization though will still maintain a local board that will help oversee the care delivered in each community.
The MaineHealth Board of Trustees will have the final word about what occurs at each hospital.


Consolidation will help MaineHealth “build a system of integrated care,” notably including a common electronic medical records system to serve local health systems across the state and 1.1 million people. The new combined health system will comprise 19,000 employees and more than $3 billion in annual revenues.


Rural hospital closings have been rising in recent years due to regulatory changes, reimbursement cuts and more than half operating on negative margins. Earlier this month, in fact, the U.S. Department of Health Human Services Government Accountability Office predicted that rural hospitals owned by for-profit entities are more likely to close than their nonprofit brethren.

A major driver of mergers and acquisitions has been the boost in resources that comes with being part of a larger system. That is true for stand-alone hospitals and physician practices.

In North Carolina, for instance, community challenges, state and local government policies and demographics have shone a light on struggles common across the nation.

MaineHealth said the inability to deploy resources across a system consisting of independent member organizations had proven problematic for community hospitals, with many under growing financial stress thanks to changes in the healthcare landscape.

“Two years ago MaineHealth members began a dialogue on how they could better leverage the strength of the whole system to make sure each community got the services it needed,” said George Hissong, Jr, Chair, Southern Maine Health Care Board of Trustees. “We are pleased with the final decision and look forward to seeing the benefits of unification in our communities.”
Nate Howell, CEO, Southern Maine Health Care, added: “Unification strengthens Southern Maine Health Care from a healthcare delivery, financial and sustainable perspective. By bringing the members together, resources can now flow more easily between various parts of the healthcare system.”


Brainstorm Health: Anthem AI, Google Maps and the Opioid Crisis, Pre-Existing Conditions

Story image for Health from Fortune

This coming weekend includes a marquee event in the fight against opioid addiction. Saturday, October 27 is the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day—dedicated to dumping unused, unneeded, and (to others) potentially harmful prescription medications that still may be lying around the house.

This year, though, tech giant Google is expanding its involvement in the effort. In fact, Google Maps will post 5,800 locations where people can dispose of powerful painkillers and other prescription drugs in a (relatively) new tool.

The product was first released back in April, and Google says that 50,000 Americans used the locator service on its very first day. “Every day 134 people die from opiate related overdoses—and misuse of prescription painkillers is a large contributor to this crisis,” says the company in a statement. “Thankfully, there is something we can do. One way that you can help reduce the potential misuse of drugs is to properly dispose of expired or unused medications.” The firm points out that expired medicines left lying around could also have environmental effects if they aren’t thrown out properly.

The National Take Back Day hours last between 10 am and 2 pm on Saturday. Furthermore, Google announced a partnership earlier this week with Walgreens, which has numerous drug disposal sites, to add such locations to Maps year-round.


The Medical Minute: Understanding Personal Health History for a Healthier You

As researchers learn that more health conditions have genetic links, knowing your personal and family health history becomes more important than ever. Upcoming holiday gatherings with family members can be a good time to sit down and piece together missing information so you know your personal risk factors and what preventative steps to take.

Dr. Mack Ruffin, chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicineat Penn State Health, said many of his patients simply haven’t had that conversation with their relatives.

“If you are in your 50s or 60s and your parents are still living, you need to make sure you get that information soon,” he said. “I’m amazed how many adults don’t understand their own personal health history and what surgeries they had as a child.”

He recommends knowing the health history of all first-degree relatives, which include parents and siblings. If those relatives are deceased, it is important to know what they died from and how old they were at the time of death. If they were diagnosed with an illness, find out how old they were at the time of diagnosis and what the exact diagnosis was.

“Cancer in particular can be challenging,” he said. “People often know someone died from cancer, but they don’t know what type.”

Patients can use the information they collect to discuss with their health care provider the preventative measures they should take. “We try to tailor what we recommend to people based on their family history,” Ruffin said. “A lot of diseases have genetic components.”

If colon cancer – or early-onset colon cancer – runs in the family, you may want to start screenings for it before the recommended age of 50. If your parent died from a heart attack in his or her 40s, you may need to be more aggressive about controlling your risk factors – keeping a healthy weight and cholesterol profile and not smoking.

Ruffin cautions against making blanket assumptions based on the information you collect. He said it’s important to know some context: “What that person did might be different than what you are doing.”

For instance, if your grandfather smoked or worked in a mine and died of lung cancer but you do neither, your chances of developing lung cancer are not necessarily as high.

“So when the pumpkin pie is gone, sift through family records and have some conversations with your relatives,” Ruffin said. “There are many useful tools online to help collect, track and document the information. It’s really important to understand your medical history and have it as accurate as possible.”

[“source=GANT News“]