Northern Light Acadia Hospital in Bangor. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

An impending leadership change amid the construction of a new pediatric wing at Northern Light Acadia Hospital in Bangor, one of Maine’s two private psychiatric hospitals, is not expected to disrupt the hospital’s behavioral health services.

Northern Light announced Monday that Acadia Hospital President and Senior Vice President of Northern Light Scott Oxley will step down from his roles on May 1 to start a new job as president of the Galen Cole Family Foundation.

Northern Light will launch a search for Acadia Hospital’s next president with guidance from Acadia Hospital board members, providers and staff, and a new president is expected to be selected by Oxley’s departure, spokesperson Suzanne Spruce said Wednesday.

Oxley’s impending departure and the organization’s plans to replace him are the latest in a string of operational changes, acquisitions and scaling back of services with the intention of saving money Northern Light announced in recent weeks.

The leadership change is happening while Acadia Hospital’s Stillwater Avenue campus undergoes an expansion to help address a growing need for psychiatric care that intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott Oxley steps down

Crews broke ground on a new two-story facility in April 2022 that will feature 50 single-occupancy rooms with pediatric beds. The construction work at the hospital will also involve converting all of the hospital’s double-occupancy rooms to single-occupancy rooms.

Though it’s licensed for 100 beds, Northern Light has said it can’t use all its beds because it’s unsafe to place many patients together in the same room. The expansion will allow the hospital to use all 100 beds safely.

Acadia Hospital typically sees 60 inpatients each day — 30 adults and 30 pediatric — and roughly 1,500 inpatient admissions from every county in Maine each year, Spruce said.

While the status quo is expected to remain in the coming months, more changes could be on the horizon for Brewer-based Northern Light Health, which boasts 10 hospitals and countless facilities throughout Maine, Spruce said.

Last week, Northern Light announced it will partner with Optum, a national healthcare company, to manage most behind-the-scenes administrative functions. Some 1,400 Northern Light employees will become Optum employees through the deal, but those employees will remain in Maine and continue serving Northern Light patients, said Tim Dentry, Northern Light’s president and CEO.

Northern Light will share some patient data with Optum in order for the Minnesota-based company to complete billing and scheduling work, but Spruce said patient information will be protected.

“We take this very seriously and have a rigorous program in place to ensure that our policies are upheld and data is protected,” Spruce said.

Other recent money-saving moves include the closure of Eastern Maine Medical Center’s primary care practice in Orono, the closure of an inpatient rehabilitation program at EMMC and a restructuring of the system’s walk-in care clinic in Bangor that will task nurse practitioners and physician assistants, rather than doctors, with providing most care.

There could still be more changes within the Northern Light Health system coming, Spruce said,  which are intended to help the organization recover from its financial deficit accrued during the pandemic.

“Our hospital leaders continue to work with groups of providers, staff, and leadership on ways to reduce costs and improve workflows,” she said. “We expect these groups will help us identify ways to make our operations more sustainable. As decisions are made, we will keep our patients, community, and staff informed.”

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...