BRUNSWICK — More than 300 people gathered at a day-long public hearing on Wednesday to offer their opinions on Central Maine Healthcare’s proposal to acquire control of Parkview Adventist Hospital.

Residents had mixed reactions to the proposal.

Supporters of Central Maine’s proposal said the acquisition would allow Parkview to remain an acute care hospital and resist an overture by Mid Coast Hospital to partner with Parkview.

Others, however, viewed Lewiston-based Central Maine as an interloper trying to expand into the Brunswick area and said the rival offer from Mid Coast offered better savings.

“A local hospital owned by an outside entity does not provide good care for our local citizens,” said Terry Olsen of Durham, who said she would rather support the services of a combined Parkview-Mid Coast.

Parkview employees waved banners saying “Take me to Parkview” and lined the driveway of the Knights of Columbus building in Brunswick, cheering and clapping as people arrived for the meeting.

“Patients should have a choice of where they can go. Mid Coast wants to eliminate their local competitor. Keep choice alive in Brunswick,” said Marsha Penhaker of Westport Island, who works as a switchboard operator at Parkview.

Central Maine Healthcare wants to make the insolvent Parkview a subsidiary in its network, which includes a 250-bed hospital in Lewiston, Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital.

No money would change hands, and there would be no new equipment or change of services at Parkview. The board of Parkview has voted to support the acquisition by Central Maine Healthcare.

As part of Central Maine’s acquisition proposal, the state must scrutinize the plan’s effect on total health care expenditures, the competing demands in the area, and whether less costly alternatives are available. The public hearing on Wednesday was part of that review.

Parkview has rebuffed the partnership proposed by Brunswick rival Mid Coast Hospital. Mid Coast wants to absorb Parkview and eliminate duplicative emergency departments, operating rooms and expensive testing equipment. Mid Coast said its plan would save the community $24.3 million a year in overlapping health care costs.

“Just because Parkview needs Central Maine Health for financial reasons, it doesn’t address the issue of whether we need two acute care hospitals in Brunswick,” said Mid Coast Chief Financial Officer Bob McCue.

While the hearing was intended to focus only on Central Maine’s plan, the issue of rising health care costs in the state and nationally also came up.

Officials from Bath Iron Works, one of Maine’s largest employers, spoke against Central Maine’s plan, saying cheaper alternatives were available to consolidate care and cut costs.

Chris McCarthy, manager of integrated health services at Bath Iron Works, said the shipbuilder spends about $100 million a year on health care services, most of it in the Brunswick region.

McCarthy said supporting both Parkview and Mid Coast in Brunswick burdens the residents and businesses who pay for health care services.

Two hospitals located about four miles apart means duplicate services, empty beds and unnecessary costs, he said.

“Our concern is redundancy in the system,” said McCarthy, who suggested that any overlapping costs should be returned to the businesses and customers who pay for health care services.

“Perhaps the best role for the state is to deny Central Maine’s CON (certificate of need application) and find a way for the two Brunswick hospitals to work together. It would save an enormous amount of money,” said Ralph Perry, who has lived in Brunswick for 25 years.

Parkview remained adamant about its decision to partner with Central Maine and to resist any potential partnership with Mid Coast.

“We’ve never given a moment’s thought of selling. We have told Mid Coast ‘no’ several times over the years,” said Mike Ortel, chairman of the board of Parkview. “Parkview is here to stay. Central Maine Health is very respectful of our faith-based approach.”

The battle over Parkview is just one of several changes in the works in the state’s health care system. Mercy Hospital is in talks to be acquired by Steward Health Care System LLC, a for-profit hospital chain of Massachusetts. Goodall Hospital in Sanford recently got approval to join MaineHealth, which includes Maine Medical in Portland and 10 other hospitals.

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