Mid Coast--Parkview Health. Credit: Courtesy of Mid Coast--Parkview Health

The boards of Mid Coast–Parkview Health and MaineHealth voted last week to merge into what they described Monday as “the region’s largest integrated health system.”

The merger will be subject to due diligence review, necessary state and federal regulatory approval, a vote by the approximately 750 Mid Coast–Parkview Health corporators and a final, formal plan of merger, according to a joint release from the organizations.

The hospital’s corporators, whom MaineHealth spokesman John Porter described as “engaged community members who function in a role similar to shareholders at a for-profit” organization, have historically made major decisions for the hospital, including approving the board of directors.

The organizations cited creating efficiencies with shared technology and resources in order to enhance care in the midcoast region as among the goals of the merger.

Lois Skillings, president and CEO of Mid Coast–Parkview Health, said Monday morning that the merger, if approved, would provide for midcoast residents what they most desire: “sustainable access to local care, now and into the future.”

“I believe in my heart and soul that this will be positive for the patients, the medical staff, the employees and the community,” Skillings, a 40-year employee of the hospital, said by phone Monday.

Porter said the organizations hope to complete the merger within six months.

In February, Mid Coast–Parkview Health announced it would form an exploratory committee to evaluate potential risks and benefits of joining the larger network.

Skillings, who would retain her role as president of Mid Coast–Parkview Health following the merger, said that since then the committee has met with more than 700 employees, medical staff, corporators, volunteers, patients, community members and others to answer questions and provide feedback.

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She said staff and community response to the decision so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

The approximately 2,000 employees of Mid Coast–Parkview Health would retain their jobs, although “a few” non-clinical staff may be required to work in a different location, she said, and eventually some positions would likely be “centralized.”

MaineHealth has committed to honor all restrictions for previously donated funds for use in the Mid Coast–Parkview Health service area, purchasing and implementing a new shared electronic medical record system, and “a shared commitment to continue to lower the costs of health care in our region,” according to the release.

A local “committee” would continue to oversee care quality, credentialing of providers, local philanthropy and community health initiatives, Porter said Monday. MaineHealth uses a “bottom-up strategic planning and budget process” that begins with the local hospital and is subject to final approval from trustees, he said.

“The advantage is we are unified financially … and can put our resources to the entire system,” he said.

Porter said that for fiscal year 2018, MaineHealth saw $2.5 billion in revenue systemwide. The organization has budgeted $2.65 billion in revenue systemwide for fiscal year 2019.

If the merger is approved, a representative of the local board would be invited to join the MaineHealth board of directors.

Porter said MaineHealth currently employs 19,500 people.

Mid Coast–Parkview Health currently includes the 93-bed Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, as well as Mid Coast Medical Group, Mid Coast Senior Health. and CHANS Home Health and Hospice.

MaineHealth is a nonprofit health system of eight hospitals, including Maine Medical Center, as well as a behavioral health care network, diagnostic services and home health agencies. The system employs more than 19,000 people.

In addition to Maine Medical Center, Maine Health includes Franklin Memorial Hospital/Franklin Community Health Network in Farmington, LincolnHealth in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Maine Behavioral Healthcare in South Portland, MaineHealth Care at Home in Saco, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, New Hampshire, NorDx in Scarborough, Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital in Rockport and Belfast, Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Sanford, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook and Stephens Memorial Hospital/Western Maine Health Care in Norway.