STATEWIDE – For the second time this year, a rural Maine hospital has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
There are 36 hospitals in the state and about two-thirds of those are considered rural, according to Jeffrey Austin, vice president of government affairs and communications for the Maine Hospital Association.
“They tend to be smaller and have a more limited set of services,” Austin said.
Just last week, Calais Regional Hospital became the second rural hospital in the state to file for Chapter 11 protection so far this year.
“Really, what the two hospitals are going through are really called a reorganization focused on their debt,” Austin said.
A report by the Maine Hospital Association shows several rural hospitals in the red over the last five years. Seven of the eight hospitals are rural.
“When your population is older, you have fewer jobs in the community, a tougher economic circumstance, that affects the hospital as well,” said Austin.
Calais Regional Hospital’s vice president of community relations said the hospital has struggled with lower patient numbers, among other factors.
“Decreasing reimbursements. We’ve seen an increase in free care and bad debt. Recruitment problems,” DeeDee Travis said, while listed a few of the hospital’s problems.
Travis said that during the process of debt reorganization, the hospital will remain open and no layoffs are planned.
“Any patient coming to the hospital will get care. Our employees will be paid,” Travis said.
She said the reorganization process usually takes about 12 months.