Mount Desert Island Hospital President and CEO Arthur J. Blank. Credit: Courtesy of MDI Hospital

After leading the institution for more than 20 years, the head of Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor is planning to retire at the end of 2020.

Art Blank has been president and CEO of MDI Hospital since 1999. In a statement issued Monday, Blank said he would work “closely with MDI Hospital’s Board of Trustees and senior management to develop a succession plan.”

The announcement of Blank’s pending retirement comes 14 months after Christina “Chrissi” Maguire was named senior vice president and chief operating officer of the hospital. Hospital officials have not commented on who might succeed Blank and president and CEO.

With Blank as CEO, the Bar Harbor hospital established the Birch Bay Village retirement community, incorporated nine community health centers, established a state-of-the-art Breast Health Center that was recognized as a Breast Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology, and was named the Trauma System Hospital of the Year in 2016. The hospital also became a critical access hospital, a federal designation aimed at boosting the availability of health care in rural parts of the country that uses a different Medicare reimbursement scheme to help hospitals in areas with fewer patients stay afloat.

During Blank’s tenure, the hospital also formed a teaching partnership with Penn Medicine, a teaching hospital in Philadelphia affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. Staff from MDI Hospital have traveled to Philadelphia to learn about trauma and emergency care in a high patient volume setting, while Penn Medicine staff have worked for a few summer weeks at a time in MDI Hospital’s emergency department to learn more about rural health care delivery.

Among physical improvements at the hospital in the past 20 years have been the renovation of its inpatient and obstetrical units in 2007, the construction of the Lisa Stewart Women’s Health Center in 2014, and the acquisition of a new state-of-the-art generator in 2018.

Blank also has helped to keep MDI Hospital independent as other hospitals in the area, including those in Ellsworth and Blue Hill, in recent years were absorbed by Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, which has since changed its name to Northern Light Health.

Through an alliance with other independent hospitals in Caribou, Houlton and Fort Kent and with St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, Blank also helped to establish the Maine Rural Health Collaborative. The hospitals work together to make their operations more efficient and share best practices with each other with the aim of preserving health care services in the rural communities they serve.

Founded in 1897, after Mount Desert Island had become a popular summer destination for wealthy East Coast residents, the hospital now employs more than 500 people and is the second-largest employer on MDI, after The Jackson Laboratory.

Prior to joining MDI Hospital, Blank served as vice president of finance and chief financial officer for St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation in Bangor. Before that, he spent five years working for private accounting firms.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....