Letter from Mark Fourré, President
As COVID-19 fades from the headlines, it seems appropriate to look back and recognize the enormous effort of the PBMC and WCGH care teams to keep our communities healthy and safe. Whether they provided direct patient care or supported those who did, our care team members continued to live our values and display their commitment to caring for others. I am deeply grateful for the dedication they bring to their work every day.
I also think it is a good time to recognize all we have accomplished during the pandemic. Even as our COVID response dominated the first half of the year, we were able to focus on a number of initiatives that were important to increasing access to care for everyone in our community. Some of these initiatives focused on capital improvements. Significantly, others focused on building important relationships across our community. Together, these approaches are allowing us to deliver on our vision of working together to make our communities the healthiest in America.
- PBMC Emergency Department Expansion: We completed Phase I of PBMC’s emergency department (ED) expansion, opening a new addition and ED entrance in October. The project is driven by advancements in emergency medicine that require more equipment and lead to better outcomes. There has also been a significant increase in severity of cases in recent years. High acuity patients often require longer ED stays, resulting in fewer available exam rooms at any one time. Expanding to 25 exam rooms will help to alleviate this.
- WCGH Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Expansion: Located on the main floor of the hospital’s Ludwig Building, the WCGH Orthopedics Department began seeing patients in a new space this fall. A second phase of the project that includes renovating the old space will wrap up in early 2023. When completed, the project will house eight new exam rooms, new offices, an ADA-approved bathroom, dual entrances and a larger waiting room, as well as hallway access for the procedure room.
- Community Health Improvement: The Community Health team developed a relationship that will help it better support those who are enduring food insecurity. In Waldo County, the Belfast Soup Kitchen will supply all of the shelf-stable food items needed for the hospital’s “Help Yourself Shelf,” a food pantry shelf located within WCGH primary care and walk-in care offices at 119 Northport Avenue in Belfast. In Knox County, a new relationship with Area Interfaith Outreach will supply shelf-stable food for pantry shelves in the Charlotte and Christopher Beebe Health Center and in the Rockland walk-in care offices. The pantry shelves offer food to everyone, helping to remove the stigma that may come from taking food from a shelf designated for just the needy.
- Campaign for Coastal Health: A four year capital campaign to raise $21.5 million hit its goal this past fall, thanks to the generous support of both individuals and businesses in the communities we serve. These relationships with our community are the very definition of “working together to make our communities the healthiest in America.” By funding the Beebe Health Center and the ED expansion, they have created greater access to health care for everyone.
Those are just some of the measurable achievements of this past year. There have also been many less defined, but still significant, developments that leave us stronger. I am tempted to call these the silver linings of the pandemic, although I also recognize there is no silver lining for those who lost a loved one to COVID-19 or lost the health they used to take for granted. However, without minimizing those personal tragedies, it remains important to recognize how the struggle of COVID has led to real progress for our care team. For example, during the lockdown when patients could not come to the hospital, we adopted telehealth as the only way of delivering the care they needed. Today, with our offices back open, we continue to use telehealth to reach those who in the past may not have been able to see a doctor for lack of transportation.
Perhaps the most significant achievement is the least measurable. It is my observation that the challenges of the pandemic, which required not just extraordinary effort and courage but also cooperation, have led to a more connected and committed community among our care team members. It has also instilled a confidence in our care team that, working together, we can and will overcome any challenges in the future.