Hospital celebrates strong community ties



BAR HARBOR — Health care delivered by neighbors, to neighbors, at the highest level of skill. That’s how Jim Bright, chairman of the board of trustees, summed up the mission of the Mount Desert Island Hospital when he spoke at the organization’s annual meeting at the Bar Harbor Club Monday.

Chrissy Maguire-Harding, the hospital’s chief financial officer, told the group the value of critical access to care was dramatically illustrated for her personally when, last week, her son was rushed to the emergency department for first- and second-degree burns from a flash propane explosion.

“The emergency care team launched into action with efficient expertise, caring touch, and clear communication of what was happening,” she said.

Maguire-Harding went on to note that hospital ended its fiscal year 2018 in the black despite having provided over $5.5 million in free and uncompensated care.

She called the recent closure of Sonogee Rehabilitation and Living Center in Bar Harbor “not only a financial challenge but also a continuum of care challenge.”

State Rep. Brian Hubbell, the keynote speaker, spoke of recent legislative successes such as the funding of MaineCare expansion and the Drugs for the Elderly Program. He also testified to how his work on climate action would not be possible without the deep involvement of MDI community members.

“Last March, students from both COA and MDI High School allied in a worldwide youth strike for climate action and convened a community meeting at which they demanded both practical solutions and government accountability,” said Hubbell.

Echoing CEO Art Blank’s opening remarks about the special community of MDI, Hubbell noted that community action on climate change has left him “with great optimism about our ability, collectively, to advocate for community and as a result move good policy on hard issues in a way that improves our prospects for the future.”

For the first time ever, the organization decided to award two employee of the year awards.

“This is the first in the 18-year history of Birch Bay [Retirement] Village that an employee has been recognized separately from the Mount Desert Hospital,” said Peter Sullivan, Birch Bay’s executive director.

“This was an employee-driven initiative. At first it didn’t seem like something that fit. We’re one organization; we’re integrated. We’re one culture, one team.”

But after some reflection, Sullivan said, they decided it was important to recognize Birch Bay for its unique gifts, challenges, and resources that it brings to the organization.

Allison Lovejoy, who has worked in dining and housekeeping at Birch Bay since 2017, was named Birch Bay’s Employee of the Year.

“She will not rest until she knows her resident’s situation is addressed,” Sullivan said. “Allison is always willing to help anyone in any department whenever the need presents itself. She will jump in and help without being asked.”

Whitney Doughty, who died tragically in May as a result of an ATV accident, was posthumously awarded the hospital’s Employee of the Year. Doughty joined MDI hospital in 2012, working in various roles that included pharmacy technician and CNA. Her mother Dawn Doughty accepted the award on her behalf.

“Her integrity was unsurpassed,” Blank said of Whitney Doughty. “Her gentleness with life was an attribute to behold. Whitney was a dream employee. She exemplified all our foundational values and so much more.”

Dr. Julian Kuffler has been named MDI Hospital’s Director of Education. Rob Benson, Stewart Brecher, Vince Messer, Dean Read, Elsie Flemings, Chip Hutchins, and William Rudolf were reelected to the board of trustees. 23 “incorporators” — a group of community members who support the hospital by volunteering, contributing money, and acting as community ambassadors — was also approved.

Blake Cass

Blake Cass

Blake Cass

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