February 24

MaineGeneral’s new hospital ‘doing its best’ amid bed shortage

MaineGeneral Health CEO Chuck Hays says the hospital in north Augusta, which opened in November, is at full capacity 26 percent of the time.

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

MAinegeneral: The emergency entrance of MaineGeneral in Augusta. The hospital, which opened in November, is at capacity 26 percent of the time, officials say.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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Hospital chief: Chuck Hays, chief executive officer of MaineGeneral Health.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

Related headlines

Express care

MaineGeneral Medical Center asks the public to use its Express Care for non-emergency illnesses and injuries, instead of going to the hospital emergency room.

Hospital officials say Express Care can be used by people who cannot see their primary care provider or doesn’t have one, and needs non-emergency care.

MaineGeneral Express Care treats non-emergency illnesses such as:

• cough, colds, flu, sinus problems, sore throat

• ear infections

• fever

• nausea, vomiting

• pink eye

• rash and skin irritations, allergies

• sports injuries, sprains and strains

• urinary tract infections

MaineGeneral bed breakdown

The Alfond Center for Health, MaineGeneral Medical Center’s new regional hospital in Augusta, has 192 beds for patients. The hospital divides the available beds into the following categories:

• 108 for medical/surgical

• 30 for mental health and substance abuse

• 20 for acute rehab

• 16 for critical care

• 14 for obstetrics

• 4 for pediatric

Four beds are also reserved for those who need to be admitted.

Those rooms have solid walls — not curtains — and the patients stay in those beds until private rooms open up, according to Peterson.

All inpatient rooms at the hospital are private, or one-bed rooms.

Reading trends

The Augusta hospital has only been open a little less than four months, so Hays isn’t sure if not having enough beds will continue to be a problem.

Hays conceded the matter of knowing how many beds the hospital would need came down to hospital officials and the state predicting the future.

“It’s really hard to gauge trends,” he said.

Hays also said officials are still working out the bugs associated with making the transition from two inpatient hospitals to one — a process he expects to last a total of eight to 10 months.

He surmises that an aging population and a lot of people coming into the hospital with infections and needing to stay longer as inpatients contribute to the reasons the hospital is so often at capacity.

Hospital officials said they hope MaineGeneral Express Care will also help.

Express Care treats people with non-emergency illnesses and injuries such as colds, flu, fractures and sports injuries and is an option for people when they cannot see their own primary care provider, do not have a primary care provider or need non-emergency care.

Hospital officials say they hope that by educating people about their needs and how best to seek treatment, they will find the care they need, leaving the emergency room free to deal with the more serious cases.

Before the new hospital was built, Hays and MaineGeneral’s senior management team and clinical staff traveled to Connecticut, California, Michigan and other areas to visit hospitals that had been through similar transitions.

They asked many questions, including what they would have done differently.

“We learned a lot about what worked for them and what their transition issues were,” Hays said. “We were fortunate to learn from a lot of other people.

Amy Calder — 861-9247acalder@centralmaine.comTwitter: @AmyCalder17
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