MDI’s major employers weather the pandemic with payroll assistance

SOMESVILLE, July 2020 – MDI Hospital has a special place in my heart. Its emergency room should award me frequent flyer miles. That’s where my son got patched up twice – once when I tripped him onto a rock on Long Pond and the ensuing cut on his mouth required multiple stitches. Another time he fell off the idle docks goofing off with his cousins at Seafood Ketch in Bass Harbor. Another trip to MDIH. More stitches. Over 35 years there were ear infections, cuts and bruises of all flavors, fishing hook excisions and various sprained parts of the human corpus.

I recently signed up as a regular patient at its Community Center in Southwest Harbor. So I have a big stake in MDI Hospital.

Back in March the hospital was very much on my mind, as I hyperventilated on my own dark foreboding of an unknown future. How could a hospital with only three ICU beds support the onslaught of the pandemic? I began to plot personal strategies. At the sound of the first cough what should I do?

I’ve learned a lot since them. There have been fewer than five cases on the island, and none from any resident of Bar Harbor. There never was an assault on our hospital. MDI affiliate Birch Bay Village was a model of how a congregate facility dealt with Covid-19, as only one employee came down with the the virus.

But fear of the pandemic spawned an even bigger crisis for hospitals.

U.S. hospitals were losing more than $1 billion in daily revenue in the April/May period as they experienced significant declines in patient volume during the pandemic, according to Crowe, a public accounting, consulting and technology company. 

The decline was across most major specialties as inpatient and outpatient volumes declined. You may view updated data from Strata Decision Technology here.

In its original report, using data from the National Patient and Procedure Volume Tracker, Strata found that the number of patients who sought hospital care decreased by 54.5 percent in March and April as a result the cancellation of elective procedures and other concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, net revenue at hospitals with more than 100 beds dropped roughly $1.44 billion per day, according to the report. 

The report, released May 1, said inpatient admissions were down more than 30 percent, emergency room visits dropped 40 percent and outpatient surgery volume plummeted 71 percent, compared to January. 

“Hospitals and governments prepared for a surge in patient volume to treat those infected with the novel coronavirus,” Brian Sanderson, managing principal of healthcare services at Crowe, said. “However, any possible surges that might have been expected due to COVID-19 patient volume appear to be dramatically offset by a significant decline in volume in all other areas.”

No doubt MDI faced the same financial abyss as its routine operations essentially came to a halt. It’s easy to focus on tourism as the economic elephant in the room on MDI because the restaurants, hotels, ships, shops and Acadia National Park are so visible. And it’s easy to forget that the hospital, along with Jackson Labs, may be the bigger economic engine. MDI Hospital employs 600 highly trained, professional staff. Those are not the people we want to lose.

I learned this week that MDI Hospital received one of the largest federal loans – $5 to $10 million – in the Payroll Protection Program in Maine. As I did my research, it all made sense. I don’t have the details but hope to learn more next week when I get a chance to interview Chrissi Maguire, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the hospital.

The Trump administration gave in to pressure on Monday when it released the names of all those who received loans of $150,000 or more. Of course the largest group are those who received less than that. Those names have not been disclosed.

Quietside Journal culled through the 661,219 national recipients of PPP “loans” exceeding $150,000 and identified 18 on the island. They were essentially grants because of achievable “loan forgiveness” requirements. The list was developed by a zip code search for MDI-based organizations, so it may not be comprehensive. Some like Witham Family Hotels, owner of Bar Harbor Inn and other hotels on MDI, are based off island (Ellsworth) and did not initially appear with my zip code search. You may conduct your own search by name or zip code here:

Beyond the hospital is a hodgepodge of businesses on MDI which received PPP funding of more than $150,000 – some easily recognizable and a few somewhat obscure to me.

Among those receiving $1 million or more were big employers such as College of the Atlantic and Downeast Horizons, the non-profit that provides programs for persons with disabilities.

Both big hotel operators in Bar Harbor received loans. The owner of the Bar Harbor Holiday Inn received $1 million to retain 12 workers, which seemed like a typo. I tried numerous time to contact Eben Salvatore, who runs the hotel among other hotels owned by Ocean Properties, but to no avail. The Holiday Inn is owned by Eden Street Trust, which is affiliated with Ocean Properties although it’s not clear what the ownership arrangement is. A clause in the PPP added by Maine Senator Susan Collins allowed any hotel chain that has more than one physical location but employs fewer than 500 per location to qualify for loans. The other big hotel operator on MDI, Witham, received a more modest $350,000 to $1 million loan, although it did not state in the papers filed how many jobs would be retained.

Two heavy equipment construction companies, Goodwin and Gott, received loans. You cannot drive down any street on MDI in the spring, fall or winter without seeing their trucks, tractors, forklifts. Doug Gott & Sons received substantially more – $350,000 to $1 million – but declined to disclose in papers filed how many jobs it would retain with the money. Goodwin, which received between $150,000 and $350,000, said it would retain 23 jobs.

Here is the list of those with loans exceeding $150,000 on MDI:

A.C. PARSONS GARDEN CENTER, BERNARD, $150,000-350,000. Jobs retained 39

DOUG GOTT & SONS, SOUTHWEST HARBOR,$350,000-1 million. Jobs retained N/A

J&S WORCESTER (Sips, Sawyers Speciality), SOUTHWEST HARBOR, $150,000-350,000. Jobs retained 22

ISLESFORD DOCK RESTAURANT AND GALLERY LLC $150,000-350,000. Jobs retained 43

JOHN W GOODWIN, INC., SOUTHWEST HARBOR, $150,000-350,000. Jobs retained 23

NORTHEAST PLUMBING AND HEATING, INC., $150,000-350,000.Jobs retained 15

CAMP BEECH CLIFF MDI, LLC, $150,000-350,000. Jobs retained 20

FISHMAINE, INC. (Fish House Grill, Jalapenos), $150,000-350,000. Jobs retained 131

DOWNEAST HORIZONS INC, $1-2 million. Jobs retained 162

ASTI-KIM CORPORATION (Asticou Inn), $150,000-350,000. Jobs retained 6

ISLAND ENERGY, Northeast Harbor, $150,000-350,000. Jobs retained 16

SALISBURY COVE ASSOCIATES INC. (Atlantic Brewing Co.), $150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 42

MER INC., Bar Harbor, $150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 46

MT. DESERT ISLAND YMCA, $150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 38

GEDDY’S PUB – BAR HARBOR, $150,000-350,000.Jobs Retained 99

RUPUNUNI, $150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 15

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND HOSPITAL, $5-10 million. Jobs Retained 420

BIRCH BAY RETIREMENT VILLAGE, $350,000-1 million. Jobs Retained 58

VIRTUAL CORPORATION INC., Bar Harbor, $350,000-1 million. Jobs Retained 31

CADILLAC MOUNTAIN SPORTS, $150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 21

DAVID B PAINE INC. (Jordan’s restaurant), $150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 21

NORWOOD, DELAITTRE & SONS, INC. (masonry),$150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 17

COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC, $1-2 million. Jobs Retained 320.

EDEN STREET TRUST (Holiday Inn), $1-2 million. Jobs Retained 12

SIDE STREET CAFE, INC, $150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 20

THE ACADIA CORPORATION (retail stores), $150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 13

THE WEST STREET CAFE, INC., $150,000-350,000. Jobs Retained 29

The following 19 organizations in Maine each received a forgivable loan of between $5 million and $10 million:

• Alcom LLC
• Berry Dunn McNeil & Parker Inc.
• Continuum Health Services Inc.
• Darling’s
• Somic America Inc.
• Spectrum Health Care Partners P.A.
• Baker Newman & Noyes P.A. LLC
• Crooker Construction Inc.
• Woodland Pulp LLC
• Androscoggin Home Health Care Services Inc.
• Husson University
• Mount Desert Island Hospital
• New England Life Care Inc.
• Penobscot Community Health Center
• Intermed P.A.
• Diversified Holdings Co.
• Lee Holding Co.
• Saturn Associates Inc.
• V.I.P. Inc.

How well did Maine do in the national scrum? I think middling to poor.

Maine only had 2,840 recipients of $150,000 loans or more which seemed we got the short end of the stick. A larger number, 24,358, received loans under $150,000. There was a hurried and arbitrary application process. I know of well-deserving businesses which were denied and others flush with cash flow which received the loan.

One would have thought that Donald Trump would have wanted to give Susan Collins something to brag about. But that’s another story.

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