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How Rural ME Hospitals Are Tackling Financial Challenges

Rene Letourneau, for HealthLeaders Media, February 10, 2014

Tight Reimbursements a Major Concern
"Now we are seeing our free care go up and our bad debts go up, and if we had some reimbursements on these patients, it would be helpful," Goodrich says. "The people in our community have a high rate of chronic disease, and we have a high volume of uninsured and underinsured patients. We rely on government payers, and when they threaten to cut rates or make changes to payments, it impacts us greatly."

Although most healthcare providers are feeling the financial pinch of dwindling reimbursements, small institutions in rural settings have additional challenges to contend with, including recruiting physicians and consistently balancing patient volume with staffing levels.

Goodrich says these are two of her organization's biggest ongoing obstacles.

"Recruiting is a big challenge," she says. "I find we have better luck when someone has ties to Maine and knows this is an excellent place to raise a family and to retire."

"We sometimes have trouble recruiting because finding work for the spouse can be a challenge," she adds.

Facing Unique Staffing Challenges
Because C.A. Dean is located in an area where the population changes dramatically with the seasons, it is difficult to always have the proper staff-to-patient ratios, Goodrich says. Having to employ more staff than necessary during the slow seasons creates a financial burden that is tough to avoid.

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