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Preserving our promise in rural Maine



Our hospitals and health centers are often the largest employers in town and hubs of knowledge and diversity. During the pandemic, they led the local response by operating testing centers and vaccination clinics.

Nationally, the pressure on rural hospitals is significant. More than 100 hospitals have closed since 2013, according to the Government Accountability Office. When many rural hospitals face an uncertain future, Northern Light Health is taking a fresh approach to rural healthcare by investing in rural healthcare on the Blue Hill Peninsula and in the Moosehead Lake Region.

Plans are well underway to rebuild and refresh the Northern Light Blue Hill and CA Dean Hospital campuses before the end of 2023. Here are three things to know about these projects:
  • Medicine is changing, and we’re changing with it. Before the pandemic, approximately one percent of patient visits were done through telehealth. Moving forward, virtual visits will be an important part of our strategy to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare. And, coordination of care across Northern Light Health Hospitals will continue to improve. The designs for the new Blue Hill and CA Dean hospitals will embrace these realities.
  • Our new rural hospitals will preserve the core services that their communities need. Both hospitals will include private inpatient rooms, full-service emergency departments with 24/7 coverage, imaging and lab services, primary and select specialty care, and more, all in sustainable, patient-centered facilities. 
  • Community support will help make these projects a reality. The Next Century of Care: Keeping Our Promise (Blue Hill) and A Moosehead Legacy: Preserving the Promise (Greenville) fundraising campaigns are now underway. Northern Light Health Foundation, hospital leadership, and campaign committees are reaching out to people who share our vision for rural healthcare to ask for their partnership.
Plans are also in the works to modernize inpatient spaces at Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital and to upgrade and expand Northern Light Acadia Hospital. This fall, Northern Light Mercy Hospital will complete its consolidation onto an expanded Fore River campus. When complete, these projects and our two new rural hospitals will ensure that wherever Mainers live and work, Northern Light Health will be ready to meet their needs—that’s our promise to Maine today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.

Learn more about our rural healthcare projects and the campaigns to support them:
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Community Health Needs Assessment Helps Build a Better Future for Maine

A child is now able to get healthy food that supports his nutritional needs direct from his pediatrician’s office; a single mother of two is now feeling supported mentally due to outreach services in her community; a father has reached his optimal weight by using a new, safe walking trail in his community; and a grandmother in a rural community now has an instant connection to her specialist without leaving the comfort of her home. These are all examples of identified community improvement priorities that are now success stories because of the important work Northern Light Health is engaging in through partnerships with other Maine healthcare organizations, public health, and additional community partners.   

Every three years, through the Maine Shared Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), Northern Light Health collaborates with Central Maine Healthcare, MaineGeneral Health, MaineHealth, and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to work with local organizations to engage communities to help identify priority health needs through a statewide assessment of community health needs. Data is gathered from public forums hosted across Maine and later informs data-driven health improvement plans for Maine people.

Doug Michael, associate vice president of Community Health and Grants, shares, “We believe Maine can become the healthiest state in the nation. However, accomplishing such a lofty goal takes dynamic public-private partnerships, strong community engagement, and up-to-date data and information to help guide our path forward. The Community Health Needs Assessment is essentially our road map to a better, healthier Maine.”

Between September and November 2021, local Maine Shared CHNA planning committees will host forums and conduct community outreach to ensure feedback from those who represent the broad interests of the community, including but not limited to the medically underserved, low-income, those who experience health disparities, or minority populations. We want your feedback too! All community members are invited to participate in the upcoming community forums.
If you are interested in building a better future for Maine, check out the dates and times of local upcoming scheduled forums here.  

For additional information about the Maine Shared CHNA, contact Nicole Hammar, manager of Community Health Improvement, Northern Light Health at nhammar@northernlight.org.
 
 
 
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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Yep, there’s a portal for that

As Northern Light Health continues down the path of increasing support for all employees and patients, a new portal is now available that provides information and resources on issues involving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Marwa Hassanien, MS, MEd, system director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, comments, “I believe this portal is a great starting place that backs up our DEI intentions and initiatives. It is set up to help us familiarize ourselves with key issues, bring awareness to important topics, honor differences, and foster greater understanding of the importance of our employees’ intersecting identities.”
 
The portal includes resources that offer inspiration and guidance about how to embrace DEI as a fundamental value. Marwa continues, “These resources will be a great help in this important work for ourselves as individuals and for our organization. We hope it assists in advancing a respectful, caring culture in which everyone feels empowered to learn and grow. This merit-worthy work is critical in rooting out any inequities prevalent in society.”
 
Intranet - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) (emhs.org)