ELLSWORTH – Maine Coast Memorial Hospital president and CEO Doug Jones was hired seven years ago and challenged to stop financial bleeding at a facility that was losing revenue at an alarming rate.
He hasn’t looked back since.
For the sixth consecutive year, the hospital reported positive earnings at its annual meeting last week, announcing a revenue surplus of $1,272,345 over last year.
“I love to take all the credit myself, but we’ve got such a strong management team,” Jones said this week. “It’s taken a lot of hard work.”
At a time when many rural hospitals across the state and across the country are facing cuts and possible closure, MCMH has maintained a steady financial hand since a dramatic turnaround in 1999.
Jones was appointed president and CEO that year, inheriting a $1.7 million deficit from the previous year.
He promptly turned those losses into earnings of $1.2 million in his first year and has kept the hospital in the black every year since 1999.
A big part of that, he said, is an increase in patients coming in and those being referred by local physicians.
“Our success can hardly be attributed to one thing, but community confidence is a big factor,” Jones said. “We’ve worked really hard to build accountability into everything we do and I’d like to think that our quality has substantially improved.”
With that solid fiscal footing, the hospital and its 550 employees have been able to enjoy much-needed expansions.
Last year, the hospital reached its $10.2 million capital campaign goal that started in 2001. That total paid for construction of new operating rooms, an intensive care unit and a revamped food service area.
It was the largest expansion the hospital has seen since it opened 50 years ago and the first major building project since 1989.
“I don’t know that [the expansion] created new business but it certainly increased our capacity,” Jones said. “There was patient volume that we knew was coming, so as our community expanded, we just needed to expand with it.”
Within the next couple years, Jones said, the hospital plans to move forward with construction of a new emergency room, which will replace the original ER built in 1956.
Even amid all the success at MCMH, its leader pointed out that the state still owes the hospital more than $7 million in back Medicaid payments.
“There’s over $7 million in debt out there, if that came in tomorrow we’d be well on our way to a new emergency room,” Jones said.
The revenue share also doesn’t include a few million dollars in free medical care that the hospital provided over the last year.