March 31, 2004
A day to remember
Maine’s newest hospital marks fifth anniversary with near-record census & more
A 60-month period of incremental successes, culminating in the recent opening of a new hospital in Westbrook, was celebrated today by the staff of southern Maine’s only psychiatric treatment center. Now located at 123 Andover Road, the 100-bed Spring Harbor Hospital today marked its fifth year of service to the community.
“It has been quite an amazing journey,” says Spring Harbor CEO Dennis P. King, who also serves as immediate past president of the National Association of Psychiatric Healthcare Systems. “Five years ago, it was not possible for us to envision our future here in this beautiful new building because there were far too many more immediate needs facing us.”
Since opening its doors earlier this month, the new Spring Harbor Hospital is seeing a near-record volume of patients. Occupancy has been in the 90-percent range for most of the month. “Though March is typically a high-census month,” King notes, “since we opened our doors, census is definitely up, even above our typical seasonal highs.”
Spring Harbor was established in March 1999. By the end of that year, the hospital’s annual patient admissions stood at 1,300; by the conclusion of the following year, admissions had more than doubled, making Spring Harbor the most-visited psychiatric hospital in Maine.
Other successes soon followed, including the opening of a new 12-bed unit for adults, the creation of a single point of entry for the mental health programs of Spring Harbor and Maine Medical Center, two positive triennial reviews by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the State’s Bureau of Licensing, and continued increases in admissions.
“Our primary goal from the beginning was improving access to hospital care for people in need,” says Spring Harbor Board Chairman Richard Aronson. Toward that end, Spring Harbor has successfully decreased average length of patient stays from 25 days in 1999 to 8 this year, which greatly increases the number of patients the hospital can serve.
Spring Harbor also has worked with its largest referral source, the Maine Medical Center emergency room, to reduce wait time in the ER for patients in psychiatric crisis. Back in 2001, the ER wait time for learning whether a patient could be admitted to Spring Harbor averaged more than 12 hours. Improvements since then include a 59 percent decrease in average wait time in 2003, despite a 25 percent increase in psychiatric admissions each month between 2001 and 2003. The National Institute for Healthcare Improvement recently honored the hospitals' efforts in reducing their wait time.
Among those who have witnessed the five-year evolution of Spring Harbor from fledgling new hospital to solid treatment and recovery center in a new therapeutic setting is Amy Juneau. A psychiatric nurse with thirteen years of service at Spring Harbor and its predecessor organization, Juneau says, "It is so gratifying to hear that patients are choosing to come to our hospital now, not only for our clinical expertise, but also because of our new, more patient-friendly care environment. It is a tribute to staff’s dedication to the proper treatment of people with psychiatric illness."
Dietary Director Joe Pastore agrees. He came to the hospital 13 years ago from the hotel industry, where he was an executive chef. “It’s not just hospital food anymore,” he says of the fare he and his 16-person department prepare three times per day, year-round. In the new hospital, Pastore says his kitchen is state-of-the-art and far more efficiently configured than in the previous facility, and the new dining area is bright, with ample natural light. “Ultimately, it makes the patient’s dining experience so much more enjoyable,” Pastore says.
“None of our success over the past five years, and especially our latest transformation, would have been possible without our employees’ support, loyalty, expertise, and dedication to our patients,” King notes.
As the celebration in Westbrook took place, final removal of furniture and equipment concluded at the hospital’s previous location at 175 Running Hill Road in South Portland.
“It seems fitting that these two events coincide,” King says. “It is a powerful reminder to us of how far we have come in so little time.”
Spring Harbor is southern Maine’s only psychiatric hospital serving persons of all ages and the state’s only resource for short-term inpatient treatment for youth with both mental illness and developmental disorders. Founded in 1999, the nonprofit hospital partners with more than 2,600 individuals each year in their recovery from serious mental illness and chemical dependency. Now located in Westbrook at 123 Andover Road, the new Spring Harbor Hospital features twice as many private rooms, expanded therapeutic space, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, community meeting room space, and residency-training and mental health research facilities.
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