BAR HARBOR — If you ask Mount Desert Island Hospital’s outgoing CEO Art Blank what he will do in retirement, he will tell you that he plans to rekindle his love of horseback riding.
After 20 years at the helm of the hospital, and seeing it through a number of successful transformations, he has probably earned that right, but when he expands on the answer, you’ll find that while he won’t be setting an alarm clock, there are still a few hospital projects to which he will lend a hand in the coming months.
During Blank’s two decades at MDI hospital, he helped to establish Birch Bay Retirement Village, a Breast Health Center, transitioned the hospital to a critical access hospital (the third in the state) and incorporated nine community health centers, including the community’s first full-service behavioral health center and a nonprofit dental center. While that is by no means an exhaustive list of Blank’s accomplishments, he is quick to credit others. “It is a team effort,” he said during an interview with the Islander last week. In fact, nearly every answer given to every question asked rounded back somehow to the word “team.”
Blank credits the community and the hospital staff with much of the success that he has had and says he is “confident that the organization can deal with most anything that comes down the pike”—especially after this past year. While other top hospital administrators nationwide have pulled back planned retirements because of the pandemic, said Blank, he has no plans to do the same, citing an already successful transition that will seat Chrissi Maguire at the head of the organization on Jan. 1.
Remaining an independent hospital has always been a top priority for Blank as he has led the organization through periods of growth and innovation. “This community is unique and allows us to take advantage of resources and invest in innovation in ways that would be harder if we were part of a larger system.” A recent donation from a family in Seal Harbor to establish the Kogod Family Center for Medical Education is an example of an innovative approach to education and one that is coming together just as Blank’s tenure ends. The center, which will be built on the main campus, will allow medical students and residents the opportunity to learn while also bringing more doctors and other medical professionals to the Island to practice.
As Maguire steps into the president and chief executive roles at MDI Hospital, she said she looks forward to carrying on with the innovative and community-minded approaches to health care that Blank pioneered. Over the last year, she has had the opportunity to work beside Blank and said there “will be no gap in leadership,” even as she looks to fill the roles she leaves behind. “The pandemic continues to bring dynamic change,” said Maguire, but added that the staff is dedicated and are just as dynamic in their response to the challenges before them.
In the long term, Maguire said she believes the future is not in health care, but in “well care,” and believes that will be the next transformation in an ever-changing health care landscape. In the near term, though, the hospital plans to focus on an update to its medical record system, move its MRI equipment to a fixed indoor location and further establish its center for education.