Towns schedule votes on Mayo merger
DOVER-FOXCROFT — The towns that make up Hospital Administrative District 4 (HAD 4) are planning for public votes regarding the potential merger between Mayo Regional Hospital and Northern Light Health. The votes will be held on a variety of dates set by each individual town as a part of a town meeting format. The result of the votes will give legislators guidance on whether or not to submit legislation to change the HAD 4 charter to allow for the merger.
“Rural hospitals are facing challenges and difficulties around the country,” said Mayo Regional Hospital President and CEO Marie Vienneau. “We are fortunate to be ahead of the curve on those challenges. The HAD 4 Board of Directors prepared for these challenges five years ago, and did its due diligence and careful, thoughtful consideration when considering the next steps in a long term strategic plan for the hospital. The 12 town votes are important to help our legislators see that there is public support for this merger, which also means public support for keeping quality care close to home. Quality care is vital for Piscataquis County, and this vote is vital to maintaining that care.”
There is currently legislation that will direct the towns in HAD 4 to hold public votes. The legislation had a public hearing April 17 and will be taken up by the State and Local Government Committee later in the week before being voted on by the House and Senate. Once the towns in HAD 4 hold votes, the legislative delegation representing those communities will determine whether or not to submit legislation to change the HAD’s charter, which would allow for the merger.
In an April 18 Facebook post Rep. Norman Higgins, I-Dover-Foxcroft wrote, “The decision on the merger with Northern Light deserves the opportunity for all member towns to discuss, debate and determine a course of action on the merger. As legislators, we encouraged HAD 4 to conduct four information meetings to better inform all of us, however, the long recognized tradition of a town meeting is the best opportunity for all points of views to be expressed. I encourage each of you to attend your town meetings listed in this article. Your voice is important.”
Because Mayo Regional Hospital is owned and operated as a Hospital Administrative District, its board is made up of members who are elected by the communities served by the hospital. HAD 4 is the only HAD left in Maine and is a quasi-governmental agency with taxing power. The effect of the merger would be to transform the HAD into a Maine charitable tax-exempt nonprofit corporation that would have a community-based board but would not have taxing authority. This would relieve the towns in the HAD from potential liability for the certain indebtedness of the hospital.
Dexter has already decided on this matter at an April 11 town council meeting, voting unanimously to proceed with the merger. The schedule for the votes for the remaining towns are as follows:
Cambridge – 10 a.m., Saturday, April 20 – Cambridge Town Office, 202 Ripley Road;
Bradford – 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 22 – Bradford Town Hall, 345 East Road;
Milo – 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 23 – Milo Town Hall – 6 Pleasant Street;
Monson – 6 p.m., Thursday, April 25 – Monson Town Office – 10 Tenney Hill Road;
Abbot – 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 25 – Abbot Town Hall – 133 Main Road;
Dover-Foxcroft – 9 a.m., Saturday, April 27 – Morton Avenue Municipal Building – 48 Morton Avenue;
Willimantic – 10 a.m., Saturday, April 27 – Willimantic Town Hall – Elliottsville Road;
Parkman – 6 p.m., Monday, April 29 – Parkman Town Office (lower level) – 771 State Highway Route 150;
Atkinson – 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 29 – Atkinson Town Office, 102 N. Stagecoach Road;
Guilford – 7 p.m., Monday, April 29 – PCES cafeteria – 25 Campus Drive;
Sebec – 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 29 – Harland A. Municipal Building – 29 North Road;
Sangerville – 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 30 – Sangerville Town Hall – One Town Avenue;
More details about the potential merger and the upcoming votes can be found at www.MayoHospitalFacts.com.