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CMMC to end neurosurgical trauma surgeries, limit surgeries immediately

Central Maine Medical Center announced Friday it will eliminate neurosurgical trauma surgeries in 60 days.
Credit: NCM

LEWISTON, Maine — Central Maine Medical Center announced Monday it will end neurosurgical services in 60 days and will immediately scale back a variety of trauma surgeries.

Maine Emergency Medical Services was notified of the changes last week and scheduled an emergency meeting Tuesday to determine how the statewide trauma system will move forward, Maine Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Shannon Moss said.

In a statement to Maine EMS, CMMC said:

“Due to impacts from the pandemic and in order to allocate resources to the areas of greatest need for our organization, Central Maine Medical Center has made the decision to eliminate neurosurgery coverage, starting on or about April 1st, 2022, and will have significant gaps in neurosurgery coverage between now and April 1st, 2022. In addition, Central Maine Medical Center will only have ENT and Plastic Surgery coverage approximately 7-14 days per month, beginning today."

Reached late Monday, Jason Krupp, president of Central Maine Medical Group, confirmed the hospital will "eliminate neurosurgery coverage." He said the decision was made "in order to allocate resources to areas of greatest need in our communities," but that CMMC still provides "24/7 trauma surgery and orthopedic trauma coverage."

He said that if a patient arrives at CMMC with a "neurological need," the patient will be stabilized and transferred to a facility with a neurological service.

"This is a strategic decision that has been under consideration for some time," Krupp said. "It will allow us to focus on areas with the highest community demand, including cardiovascular, oncologic, and orthopedic services." 

In October, citing staffing shortages, the hospital suspended pediatric and trauma admissions.

In a bulletin, Maine EMS said, "Maine EMS is working diligently to address several questions, including what this means for the state-wide trauma system and what does this mean for EMS agencies in Maine."

Maine EMS advises EMS to base decisions on where to take a patient by using the Trauma Triage Protocol: For patients with head injuries, those within 45 minutes of Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center or Maine Medical Center should be taken there, and those not within 45 minutes of those trauma centers should "proceed to the most appropriate and proximate hospital for stabilization."

Maine’s Emergency Trauma Advisory Committee held an emergency meeting Tuesday to create new policy for the state's EMS teams as they work to bring patients, quickly, to hospitals that can properly treat them.

After more than two hours of debate and conversation among themselves, and with Krupp, the parties agreed to reconvene the following week, provided Krupp would share his hospital's neuro statistics. Krupp refused to share the data with the group Tuesday, instead requesting a smaller crowd at this newly-planned meeting.

Maine EMS Director Sam Hurley assured the full committee and the public that the new meeting would be public.

As for how CMMC's neighboring hospitals feel about the neurosurgery closure, on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Maine Medical Center sent this statement to NEWS CENTER Maine:

Maine Medical Center is evaluating the impact of the elimination of neurosurgery services at Central Maine Medical Center. The change is concerning, given the significant capacity challenges facing MMC and the state’s other health care providers. However, as the state’s only Level I trauma center, MMC continues to prioritize treating critical care patients.

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