August 24, 2015: Last Thursday (August 20) Parkview Adventist Medical Center in Brunswick, Maine, was sold to Mid Coast Health, the owner of its former rival Mid Coast Hospital in the same community. Earlier in the day Chief United States Bankruptcy Judge Peter Cary approved the merger, according to the Bangor Daily News. The day before the Adventist board had approved the purchase offer.
The 55-bed nonprofit Adventist hospital was controlled by the Northern New England Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Brunswick is across the Androscoggin River from Topsham, the hometown of Ellen G. White, a cofounder of the denomination who advocated health ministry as a key element in the Adventist mission.
The new, merged nonprofit health care organization is named Mid Coast-Parkview Health. It will operate Mid Coast Hospital as an inpatient facility with 92 beds and an emergency department, and the Parkview campus as a community wellness center and outpatient facility with an ongoing faith-based element.
The transaction included a payment of $4.4 million by Mid Coast Health “in cash and debt forgiveness, a commitment to employees of Parkview for accumulated vacation and sick time of $763,000 and a commitment to make capital improvements of $1 million per year for the next three years on the Parkview campus,” reported the Press Herald.
The 190 employees of the Adventist hospital have been asked to continue to work for the new organization. Randee Reynolds, the president of Parkview Adventist Medical Center, has been hired as vice president for community health and integration of services, the new organization announced on Friday.
“The campus at Parkview will continue to provide the faith-based practices of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Lois Skilling, president of the new organization, told the Press Herald. She told the Bangor Daily News that the organization plans to preserve the religious affiliation of the Parkview campus and has a five-year contract with the Northern New England Conference for “spiritual support.”
In testimony filed with the court, Skilling stated, “Mid Coast will receive counseling and consulting services and the expertise relating to faith based health care that [it] views as important to its future success.” It will pay the conference $280,000 a year for five years for these services. And it has also agreed to recruit two new Adventist doctors.
Parkview Adventist Medical Center filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June after several attempts to merge with a different health care organization starting in 2008. “The hospital’s finances had been undermined by mounting costs and declining number of inpatient and emergency care patients,” the newspaper stated.
Janet Mills, the attorney general of the State of Maine, had written a letter stating that the offer by Mid Coast Hospital was an “innovative plan both the preserve the charitable goals of the founders of Parkview Adventist Medical Center and to better serve the needs of the community by creating a single health care presence in the Brunswick areas, instead of fostering the divided and costly competition that has existed over many years.” This letter was considered by the Adventist board when it voted to approve the proposal on Wednesday, according to the Bangor Daily News.
“This may provide a sketch of how Adventist health care institutions can continue to have a ministry in communities where it is impossible to maintain traditional structures,” a veteran church administrator told Adventist Today. “We need to focus on ministry rather than institutional strength.”