Court Takes Steps to End Receivership


MACHIAS, ME (July 8, 2011) – Following a successful Medicare survey, and a lot of hard work over the last 24 months, Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has recommended ending the emergency receivership of Down East Community Hospital (DECH), in which Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS) has been acting as emergency receiver. In June of 2009, the State of Maine asked EMHS to become the emergency receiver and operator of DECH. EMHS agreed and immediately got to work on correcting deficiencies that could have affected the hospital’s Medicare/Medicaid provider status.

In a hearing at the Kennebec County Superior Court yesterday, Justice Robert E. Murray heard from attorneys representing DECH and DHHS who agreed that the goals for which the receivership was established have been accomplished. Justice Murray also accepted written comments submitted by members of the public, and considered the effect of the receivership on DECH’s contract with the Maine State Nurses Association. At the end of the hearing, he requested submission of a proposed order that would allow the DECH Board of Trustees to resume governance authority, and that would continue the receivership only as needed to wind up outstanding legal issues that arose during the receivership. DECH and EMHS are confident that once the proposed order has been provided to the Court, which could occur as early as next week, the receivership will be terminated,

EMHS president and CEO, M. Michelle Hood, FACHE called the receivership experience an opportunity to build upon the System’s mission, “to maintain and improve the health and well-being of the people of Maine. From clinical and quality oversight to planning and communication, preserving access to quality healthcare is something EMHS takes very seriously,” Hood said. EMHS has been proud to support DECH and the Machias community, and it’s satisfying to see the hospital now able to stand on its own and planning for a successful future, she added.

Doug Jones, acting DECH president and CEO, noted that the hospital plans to sustain the momentum of improvement at the hospital. “DECH owes EMHS a big thank you for not only agreeing to take on this responsibility, but also for sending us considerable expertise in many areas, including; nursing, operations, governance, and communications. Under the leadership of Michelle Hood, EMHS staff stepped in, launched a plan of corrective action, and helped us tackle some significant challenges, and they did so in a friendly and extremely capable manner.” Jones also noted that in less than two years of receivership, DECH has updated its Code of Conduct and begun holding people accountable to it, improved transparency and communication, launched a quality improvement program that the State of Maine called one of the best they’ve ever seen, and established a new Board of Trustees and chairman, among many other accomplishments.

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