Mike Corthell

Mike Corthell
Editor & Publisher at Fryeburg Free Press MEDIA

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Do You Rate Memorial Hospital?

Many positive changes in Memorial Hospital's building and services
 have been made over the past 100  years.
Some residents and visitors ask if it's all been for the better.
There were 26 responses to this week’s Tele-Talk question: “Has there been a noticeable change in services at Memorial Hospital, North Conway, New Hampshire in the past few years?”

The only changes I’ve seen at Memorial is it’s just going downhill, downhill, downhill. It is a bandaid hospital. It is terrible. People get misdiagnosed or terrible treatment. It’s awful. It’s not a real hospital. A real hospital has standards, like Maine Med. And of course Maine Med is larger. They’re a fantastic hospital. Memorial should be embarrassed. I just think it’s gone way down hill. People joke about the hospital being terrible. That’s where you go for a broken arm; it’s a bandaid fix — that’s it, nothing major. If you need surgery you better head out of town.

Yes, there’s been a big change. It’s much more expensive and it takes forever in the emergency room. They all do a good job, but it’s just way too expensive. And leave the library people alone down there on the board. The board knows what it’s doing. The private sector pays for the public sector anyway; it’s not a big deal to have people reapply for their jobs. I’m surprised that wasn’t the question this week.

Oh, there’s been an incredible change. They’ve done an incredible job at the Memorial Hospital. I can’t say enough good about it. And all I can say is if we can get Obama elected for another four years, the way he’s straightening out the country, maybe he can come up and help the Memorial Hospital. Maybe some of these people who aren’t working — we’re paying for them anyway — we can get them working at the Memorial Hospital.

The hospital’s added the  wound care and sleep care. The CEO was also very helpful in getting the kidney dialysis unit into town. I think it just shows the hospital is looking out for the community and health care needs.

Most concerning in the change of services is the loss of pediatricians Dr. Ross Emery and Dr. Rich Laracy since they recently ended their hospital association and pediatric coverage. Multiple other providers and support staff have also left in the last one to two years including Dr. Root, Dr. Siddiqui, also both of Saco River Medical Group. Some of the providers who have left have been among the best providers in the valley, including Patty Duprey, Dr. Lisa Khoury, Dr. Linda Haller and Carrie Trumble-Curtin. They were each compassionate, well-respected and good providers who really took the time to listen. This is more than the normal turnover. What is going on up there?

The biggest thing I’ve noticed at the hospital is that it is easier to see my primary care doctor. If I think I need to be seen, I can get in the same day. If my doctor is off, I am sent to another doctor.  Much improvement in service there.

Just this past week yet another person I know was misdiagnosed at Memorial Hospital. This has happened far too many times over the past years as doctors come and go at the revolving door at Memorial Hospital. To close the pharmacy to the outside I’m sure was a dollars and cents decision, which I can certainly understand, but it also deprived the community of having a pharmacy accessible on that side of town. So, I’m not so sure all of the decisions have been good ones. I am interested in having more than 15 minutes with a doctor because although that looks good on paper it simply doesn’t work; it has driven a lot of people away. I’m also interested in correct diagnoses.

My name is Angus Badger. I returned to Mount Washington Valley as a physician and to Memorial Hospital about 11 years ago after practicing and training in the interim all over New England, in cities and in rural areas. Although the delivery of medicine is constantly changing, I can honestly say that this hospital’s current physician, nursing and ancillary staff are, as a whole, not only one of the best I have worked with, but the hospital organization — from the board of directors to the staff to the volunteers — is focused more than any time I can remember on the community it served. All this at a time when the rules of medicine seem to be changing daily. I’m sure there will be some who respond to this Tele-Talk with valid concerns, with stories where the hospital could have done a better job. I think that it is very valuable to the organization to hear that feedback and constantly improve. I can say that we are daily upgrading our delivery systems, electronic medical records, phone systems, etc., to try and meet the changing situation. Like every hospital in the country we are trying to be better and do better all the time. I feel that we as a community are lucky in that we have such a great core of professional staff to help make what will be a very turbulent coming decade in medicine a success for people who live and vacation in the Mount Washington Valley.

This is John from Conway. I find it funny to say they’re streamlining systems and cutting costs, but yet in The Conway Daily Sun it talks about the CEO making almost $300,000 a year plus getting $50,000 in perks. If they’re so into cutting costs, why are they giving $50,000 to their CEO in perks? Would that not pay for somebody’s salary for the year? I think it’s just a contradiction of terms. And I think if they were really interested in streamlining costs then it would show.

Most definitely. It’s lost small town appeal and has squelched a lot of valley residents from seeking medical care there. With the implementation of the new phone system it’s easier to walk in and schedule an appointment rather than to deal with the confusing telephone prompts. In addition I find it very disconcerting that Dr. Richard Laracy and Dr. Ross Emery have terminated their affiliation with Memorial Hospital. This is a tremendous loss for the community and I would strongly encourage Memorial Hospital to do whatever it takes to reinstate these privileges. Lastly, I’d like to add the closing of the pharmacy was upsetting to many, especially elderly patients who now have to travel elsewhere to pick up their prescriptions.

There have been changes and certainly not better for the patients. It costs more to have labs and radiology done at Memorial than almost anywhere else in the state. The board of directors need to be looked at as they are the ones controlling the hospital. By the time you add all of the new CEO’s bonuses, he’s not making that much less than the old CEO, who ran a great organization — Mr. Poquette. He brought the hospital up from where no one in the Valley wanted to go and today all of his hard work is being undone, and we are back where it was 35 years ago. Progress, they say? I’m calling from North Conway.

The scheduling and phone systems that they changed last year are very hard to negotiate and it’s very hard to get a live person if you want to talk to somebody in your doctor’s office.

My name is Angus Badger. I returned to Mount Washington Valley as a physician and to Memorial Hospital about 11 years ago after practicing and training in the interim all over New England, in cities and in rural areas. Although the delivery of medicine is constantly changing, I can honestly say that this hospital’s current physician, nursing and ancillary staff are, as a whole, not only one of the best I have worked with, but the hospital organization — from the board of directors to the staff to the volunteers — is focused more than any time I can remember on the community it served. All this at a time when the rules of medicine seem to be changing daily. I’m sure there will be some who respond to this Tele-Talk with valid concerns, with stories where the hospital could have done a better job. I think that it is very valuable to the organization to hear that feedback and constantly improve. I can say that we are daily upgrading our delivery systems, electronic medical records, phone systems, etc., to try and meet the changing situation. Like every hospital in the country we are trying to be better and do better all the time. I feel that we as a community are lucky in that we have such a great core of professional staff to help make what will be a very turbulent coming decade in medicine a success for people who live and vacation in the Mount Washington Valley.

I have noticed a positive air in the hospital environment — employees seem to be much happier in their worksite. However, oddly enough, when I show up for an appointment there, chacges are pretty good they have no record of it. I don’t understand that and that seems to not have changed. However what will change at the hospital on Jan. 1 will be Obamacare, where the hospital will be known as the house of doom for people over 65 years of age. No longer will you go in and request a procedure and they will do it for you — 65 year olds will be subject to a board that will see whether this is worth it based on their remaining days on this planet. And chances are it won’t be approved and you’ll just get a pain killer until you are done with. So, to my fellow naive senior citizens: No one is taking your Social Security away, but Obamacare will take your life away.

Yes, there has been a noticeable change and it’s not just the last few years; it’s about 10 years. At this point, Saco River Medical Group has it all over the hospital as far as service goes.

I love Memorial Hospital. Their nursing staff is the best I’ve ever seen. Their cafeteria is spectacular. And I hope those things never change. The only change I’ve seen is in the ER at night there’s a doctor — and I can assure you, if you don’t have insurance, there is nothing wrong with you. He will not let you in no matter what. That’s the only complaint I have. Do try to avoid his shift if there is anything wrong with you. 

Yes, for the worse. You have to wait forever to get to see your doctor, then when you get to the hospital you  can’t find a place to park. You have to wait 30-plus minutes in the waiting room. Once you get into an exam room, it’s another 15 minutes or more before the doctor comes in. Then the doctor is so rushed,  he says hi, what’s wrong and goodbye. Memorial Hospital should go to Main Med Partners in Scarborough, Maine, to see how to run their practice. This is Betty in Jackson.

There have been a lot of changes at Memorial Hospital, positive and negative. Regarding the recent article about the salaries that was just in the Sun last week, I was appalled at the salaries, even though the board chairman said that Scott McKinnon’s is much less, but with all his benefits, his retirement, his bonuses, we’re looking at just over $300,000. And also with John Newton, his salary of half a million dollars is absolutely absurd. Those salaries, the positions, the small community hospital, articles speaking of the cuts and the freezes at this time, and the comment about not looking at the doctors at this time, if you’re making the cuts with the other staff  it’s not going to matter as far as the doctors.Time will tell, with Scott there, how things turn out.

Memorial Hospital, I believe, is lacking the services of a geriatric doctor, neurologist and other practitioners, at least on a part-time setting at this hospital. I say this because my husband was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I have done some research and found that this disease will become an epidemic in less than 30 years, while one in eight of those over 65 have Alzheimers disease, almost one in two of those over 85 have it. It will replace cancer as one of the most dreaded diseases, as this country is expected to beat most forms of cancer in the next five years. It is a slow sad death for the Alzheimer’s patient and emotionally painful and monetarily devastating for the caretaker. It is a middle class economic security issue that could be our next financial tsunami and could eventually end the middle class. I know five people in my personal life who have Alzheimer’s disease. I’m sure most people know at least one. We should not be quiet and be scared of this illness. We should talk about it, be aware of it. This country should spend more money on research and treatment of this disease, which it doesn’t. After all, it’s an aging person’s disease and who cares about old people anyway. Unfortunately, people under 65 are also affected. I hope Memorial Hospital is listening. Diane, Intervale.

In the article last Tuesday, the hospital CEO may be making near the mean for other hospital CEOs, but he’s still getting his raises and bonuses, which the hospital support employees are not. Also the doctors’ salaries are based on how much money they bring into the hospital, so the top doctors’ salaries that are quoted in the paper are misleading. The hospital makes money off the doctors.

The services at Memorial Hospital — there is a noticeable change, but what is noticeable is the staff. The staff has been underpaid for the last two years while Scott McKinnon has gotten a 10 percent raise. The staff has not gotten a raise. The staff is overworked and underpaid. They’ve lost many benefits and that is sad. This is Tom from Albany.

There have been very noticeable changes in the hospital in the last few years. One is you go there, if you’re a patient, they put you in a room, they come down, they do your vitals, then somebody brings you a tray of food. Shift change, they come down, they take your vitals, next thing you know food shows up. If you see a nurse, it’s not your nurse and when you ask them, can you get my nurse, they don’t pay any attention. When you make an appointment there, they will leave you sitting. First they  take you out of the waiting room, they put you in a little room. My last experience of being put in that little room, I sat in that room for an hour and a half. It was 5:30 p.m. The only people left there was the cleaning staff. The nurses had left, the doctors had left and I was still waiting, even though I had an appointment, I was still left waiting. They care less about the person and more about let’s get this moving, quick, quick, quick; time is money. Well, I think Mr. McKinnon should maybe drop some of his cash for the people who can’t afford medical treatment. They’ve made it so they don’t take half the insurance people have any longer. It’s a cash only business and that’s exactly what it’s turned into.  If you don’t have the cash, they don’t want to see you.

Earlier in the week it says Scott McKinnon makes $280,000. Do you know what it’s like when you’re trying to pay off your hospital bills and you make $120 a week, and you have an accident? Your employer pays nothing for insurance; you’re expected to pay for it on your own. And then when you set up a payment plan with these people, if you miss one payment, they call you and make you feel miserable. You regret that you needed medical assistance from Memorial Hospital, because if you miss a payment they haunt you day after day until you make your payments. Well, you know, when it comes between feeding my children and feeding myself and whether you get your $10 this week, I got to tell you, it’s real sad. Here he is making over a quarter of a million dollars and they’re harassing me because I missed one $10 payment. You know, my employer doesn’t offer insurance. If I had insurance, I’m still going to have a co-pay, and you folks are still going to ride my butt until I make my co-pay. Don’t you think it’s enough to worry about being sick or having a sick child, without having somebody call you every day to remind you that you missed a payment. What are you going to do? Come take the stitches out my leg? Take the cast off my child’s arm? Scott McKinnon should give back some of his quarter of a million dollars so that I don’t have to worry about what happens when my son’s broken arm heals? Am I going to get crap because I have to go up there and get it cut off and have it charged and another co-pay that takes food out of my son’s mouth just so Scott McKinnon can feel happy about all the progress. They’re not more professional; if anything they are cold, hard-hearted jerks. And they don’t care about the people they serve. They don’t. Scott McKinnon should be right there with Tara Thomas in the library group that wants to throw away four valuable people. They’ve got it so streamlined that you’re not a person. You’re a number.

Memorial Hospital is “cutting costs?” I’m outraged at the charges for a recent standard cataract procedure, for uninsured patients. The $5,445 charge is for six things: anesthesia, operating room, pharmacy, pharmacy other, recovery room, and supplies ($1,638!)  Even at a Medicare approximate rate of about 36 percent reimbursement, the charges are still high. But they will simply be passed on to our grandchildren. Memorial must have a budget crisis, but dumping their charges on the uninsured, or grandchildren is outrageous. Fryeburg.

Yes indeed, there has there been a noticeable change for the better in services at Memorial Hospital thanks to their restructuring. That said, I’m astounded Mark Housell was not out in front of the Hospital picketing. Conway. 
http://www.conwaydailysun.com/index.php/opinion/tele-talk/92788-tele-talk-responses-has-there-been-a-noticeable-change-in-services-at-memorial-hospital-in-the-past-few-years

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