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EMHS History

Working together, the members of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS) are taking care of this region of Maine we call home. Together we are working to strengthen our communities and our healthcare system.

How far we’ve come

In 1982, leaders of the Board of Trustees for Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) realized that the future of healthcare in Maine would not be focused on single hospitals, regardless of their size and depth of services. As a result, Eastern Maine Healthcare (EMH) was created as a means of developing a network of healthcare services that would offer equal access to high quality care, while taking advantage of the many efficiencies that come from working together.

When president and CEO Norman Ledwin was recruited to lead EMH in 1993, he was charged with developing a regional, economically and clinically integrated system of providers, to incorporate healthcare services from the Bangor region into the surrounding nine counties. First, EMH linked multiple, similar providers, such as hospitals, so that efficiencies could be produced over a region and we could better weather the economic pressures being placed on healthcare providers nationwide. Second, EMH linked different levels of care, such as home health, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and physicians, so that a continuum of care could be developed that would provide all of our communities with equal access to high quality healthcare. Today, this system is known as Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS).

In April 2006, EMHS welcomed M. Michelle Hood as president and CEO. Michelle came to EMHS from Billings, Montana, where she was president and CEO of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System, Montana Region, as well as president and CEO of St. Vincent Healthcare. Michelle’s vision for EMHS is to improve access to quality healthcare for Maine people through innovative leadership and by collaborating with system members, as well as other businesses and organizations in Maine and throughout New England.

Perhaps the word collaboration best describes Michelle’s vision for EMHS. Since her arrival she has met with and established  collaborative memorandums of understanding with MaineHealth, MaineGeneral Health, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, and Penobscot Community Health Care. These latest developments complement the longstanding collaboration EMHS has enjoyed with Central Maine Healthcare to plan specific clinical initiatives, and establish LifeFlight of Maine - which has literally touched every corner of our state. By pulling together some of Maine finest healthcare resources Michelle hopes to improve the continuum of care throughout the state so no matter where a person is, the same standards of care and protocols are in place, “We must bring together healthcare leaders, social service leaders and other key constituencies to plan for an effective approach to these priorities, or we risk wasting resources on a scattered approach.” Michelle is also committed to developing an integrated system of community benefit accountability, which will demonstrate EMHS’ mission of serving in the best interest of the people of Maine.  Through Michelle’s leadership, EMHS is well on its way to realizing its recently adopted vision of becoming, ‘the best rural healthcare system in America by 2012.

In just a little more than a decade, EMHS has evolved into a remarkable resource for Maine. Our success is based on a rich heritage of determination, collaboration and flexibility in meeting the changing and growing needs of our communities. With the diverse cultures of our respective members and their community members, EMHS has maintained autonomy at both the institution and medical staff levels.

Steps along the way
In the past decade Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (EMHS) has made some significant steps to further our mission:

  • In 1992, Acadia Hospital opened its doors, becoming the first and only acute psychiatric specialty hospital in the northern two thirds of Maine. Acadia is the only psychiatric hospital in the nation to achieve Magnet Hospital designation through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
  • In 1997 and 1998, Inland Hospital in Waterville and Charles A. Dean Memorial Hospital in Greenville joined EMH as a result of the systems first strategy to seek efficiencies by linking hospitals together.
  • In 1997, Bangor Area Visiting Nurses and Hospice of Eastern Maine merged into EMH as part of the system’s second strategy to strengthen continuum of care options.
  • In 1998, EMH partnered with Central Maine Healthcare to establish LifeFlight of Maine, the medical helicopter service, literally linking every hospital in Maine, to serve the most critically ill of the state’s patients needing this service.
  • In 1999, The Aroostook Medical Center (TAMC) joined our mission through the strategic development of EMHS. This was especially significant because of TAMC’s ability to provide primary and specialty care. TAMC is not only an EMHS partner in Aroostook County, but also serves as a hub of more specialized services in support of the other providers scattered over the huge geography of Aroostook County.
  • In 2000, Sebasticook Valley Hospital also joined EMHS, and its team is working diligently to fulfill their vision of being the “best small hospital in Maine.”
  • In 2003, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital joined EMHS as a member. One result of this affiliation is their contribution to initiatives where their physicians and nurses work alongside those in EMHS hospitals to plan improvements in the quality of healthcare services we deliver through the region.
  • In 2013, Mercy Hospital and VNA Home Health Hospice, which serves Greater Portland, joined EMHS. As a part of EMHS, Mercy and VNA were able to continue to deliver high-quality, compassionate care in Portland, but as a part of an extensive Maine-based healthcare system.
  • In 2015, Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth joined EMHS. Eastern Maine HomeCare and VNA Home Health Hospice merged organizations as well as their board of directors.
  • In addition, Central Maine Healthcare in Lewiston worked with EMHS in 1998 to plan specific clinical initiatives over even a broader region, such as the dramatic example LifeFlight of Maine, which has literally touched every corner of our state.
  • EMHS has also developed other important relationships that benefit patients in our region. Houlton Regional Hospital is a strategic affiliates - meaning that this hospital contributes to initiatives in which their physicians and nurses work alongside those in EMHS hospitals to plan improvements in the quality of healthcare in central, eastern, and northern Maine. In addition, EMHS collaborates with Central Maine Healthcare in Lewiston to plan specific clinical initiatives over an even broader region. CMHC also operates an LLC with EMHS that is known to many as LifeFlight of Maine, a statewide medical helicopter service that has literally touched every corner of our state.

Regardless of whether the setting is rural or urban, EMHS pledges to put the patient’s needs and concerns first, and provide them with the best possible care. Going forward, each member of EMHS, and every member of their staff is expected to focus on our charitable purpose to always put the patient first.