Maine hospital to seek ‘critical access’ status, reduce beds

Franklin Memorial Hospital says the move would help them stay afloat financially
Published: Jun. 20, 2023 at 12:33 PM EDT
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FARMINGTON, Maine (WABI) - Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington plans to apply for what is known as “critical access hospital” status.

The federal program was created in 1997 to allow some rural hospitals to receive higher reimbursement rates to that vulnerable services can be maintained.

“Now our current government payer mix here at Franklin Memorial or FCHN is about 75 to almost 80%, so that’s huge for us,” said Barbara Sergio, president of Franklin Community Health.

She says existing reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid are between 30 and 50%. That would rise under what is known as “cost-based reimbursement” if the hospital gets a critical access designation.

“If it costs us $100 to provide care for you, we will now get $100 for our governmental payers,” said Sergio.

The criteria for the designation recently changed, opening the door for Franklin Memorial. But, with the new guidelines, the hospital would have to reduce its bed count from 65 to 25. Sergio says right now, the daily patient counts at the hospital hover right around 25, so the reduction in beds would have little to no impact on operations.

Many of those beds are often filled by people with behavioral health issues, but Sergio says this change would not strain their resources.

“We see our fair share of those patients, and they do get jammed up in our ED, but in working with MaineHealth, we move them through our system and our sister facilities,” said Sergio.

Franklin Memorial Hospital is holding a meeting on June 28 from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the Bass Room at the hospital to discuss the plan.