BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- People in the Boothbay region will be losing their local hospital emergency room next year.
The Board of Directors of Maine Health today approved a plan to close the E-R at St. Andrews Hospital and replace it with an urgent care center.
The change will also mean the end of in-patient beds at the hospital.
Boothbay Town Manager Jim Chaoussis went to Portland on Thursday, hoping to convince MaineHealth to wait.
He says, "I asked and asked they stay this for two months."
Chaoussis says his town's selectmen and many residents are surprised and angry about the decision to close the hospital emergency room. And they want a chance to be involved in the planning and maybe even suggest changes.
He says, "The people do need to feel better about this. Its in the best interest of Lincoln County health and MaineHealth and the town of Boothbay that everyone at least understands this. One of the messages I sent is that the people feel scorned. "
Chaoussis was given five minutes to speak to the MaineHealth board of directors, but it didn't change the result. The board voted unanimously to approve the plan to close the ER, eliminate acute care beds and switch over to an urgent care center.
Up to fifty people will lose their jobs. The change will happen by next April.
Frank McGinty, a vice-president for MaineHealth told NEWS CENTER, "It's very clear the Lincoln County board has thought about this issue long and hard."
McGinty says the Boothbay region will still have much of what it has now with the urgent care facility. The difference will be no overnight emergency room. He adds that
the decision to close the St. Andrews ER isn't about saving money. Instead, he says, it's about quality and whether the small hospital's emergency room could continue to be good enough.
"They're a good team but it's a small team.",says McGinty, "And when patients present as they do sometimes with very significant problems it's very difficult for that team to respond effectively to their needs."
He says the current ER does meet quality standards. But with so few patients coming in... especially overnight, its also hard to recruit and keep good people.
This is an action that's strongly supported by the emergency room physicians who deliver care at St. Andrews emergency room. They, like the board, are convinced the community's needs will be better served by making these changes.
The local board will begin a series of meetings in the community to better explain the plans, and ask people for their ideas.