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Standing up to the bullies

Lessons From Everyday Life By Theodore Lewis  

Bridgman MI— When I moved to Maine in 2002 to start my tenure as CEO of Parkview Hospital, I learned quickly of the decades-long bullying toward Parkview Hospital from its competitor called Regional, which would later be named Mid-Coast.


Over the years, Regional had made several attempts to coerce Parkview to fold into Regional. When Parkview rejected the competitor’s advances, Regional turned to intimidation and defamatory tactics in attempts to weaken or cripple Parkview out of business. Leaders at Parkview who resisted Regional's efforts to acquire Parkview were disparaged publicly. I had been in the hospital industry for many years in several different states, but I had never seen bullying behavior like this.

One of Parkview's strengths had been its obstetrics program, which Regional didn't have. The population in the Brunswick area wasn't large enough to justify two hospital delivery programs.

So Regional had gone after the Bath hospital in neighboring Sagadahoc County that had an obstetrics program, with the plan of moving those beds across county lines to Brunswick in Cumberland County. This was despite the State Certificate of Need law that required a demonstration of need in each county.

After acquiring the Bath hospital, Regional announced its plan to build a new hospital near Brunswick's Cooks Corner and move the Bath obstetric beds into their new facility. Parkview challenged the movement of Bath’s obstetric beds into Cumberland County and won. Regional then appealed the decision in the Superior Court.  


The case had been heard by the Superior Court and a decision was imminent. The Brunswick paper (owned by the Regional board chair) vociferously attacked Parkview and its CEO as obstructionists. 

Without waiting for the court's decision, Parkview acquiesced to the pressure, withdrawing its challenge to Regional's obstetrics plan before a judgement was announced. 

Regional's bullying had accomplished its purpose. Regional commenced performing deliveries at its existing Brunswick facility one-half mile from Parkview and began construction on its new hospital including obstetric beds near Brunswick's Cooks Corner, calling the new hospital Mid-Coast Hospital. It then proceeded to close the entire hospital in Bath.  

When I arrived at Parkview, we sought to protect our obstetrics market share by contracting with the physicians practicing at Parkview, incorporating a non-compete agreement to minimize the risk of the competitor stealing our practitioners. Alas, Mid-Coast hired our obstetric doctors anyway. Our attempts to find other providers failed and as a result, we had to close our long-standing signature program.

Our hospital initiated a lawsuit against Mid-Coast and the providers for violation of the noncompete clause. In the process, we learned that an attorney who had helped draft our obstetric physician contracts had been engaged by Mid-Coast at the same time helping them contractually with the physicians hired from Parkview.

When things turned ugly, I became a target of intimidation because of my unwillingness to bow to the Mid-Coast pressure. There were significant efforts put forth to go after me personally. After sundown, my wife, Sharon, and I would spot a suspicious car parked by our house in an outlying area of Freeport.

On a Sunday evening, after returning from an excursion to the JFK Museum in Boston, Sharon and I turned into our quiet neighborhood on Baldwin Road. As we rounded the curve that approached our house, we saw a parked car with its lights off on the edge of our property in front of our house. As our headlights began to show the vehicle in front of our house, they turned their lights on and sped past us toward the exit of the subdivision as we were traveling inward. Without any rational thought, and on pure reactionary impulse, I immediately turned around in our driveway and sped off to catch up with the intruder.



In an attempt to catch up with the car in our subdivision, I reached 50 mph, but the intruder turned right on Pleasant Hill Rd. and accelerated quickly. Pleasant Hill Rd. is a winding, hilly two-lane road between Brunswick and Freeport with speed limits varying from 35-45 mph.  

Our two vehicles quickly reached 65 mph on Pleasant Hill and at one point 70 mph, as Sharon began pleading with me to abandon the chase. My adrenaline was at 100 percent and I was not thinking logically. We quickly reached a fork where Pleasant Hill merges with Flying Point Road and our Toyota Highlander was gaining on the bad guys. As we approached an intersection with Upper Mast Landing Road, we were almost getting close enough to get a license number.

Suddenly, the pursued braked and turned right on Upper Mast Landing. Upper Mast Landing is a much smaller road, and we began getting closer. All of a sudden, the pursued came up on a vehicle going the 35-mph speed limit. They passed this vehicle, but as I came up on the unsuspecting souls, we were climbing a hill in a no-pass zone, and I had no way of knowing if another vehicle would be coming the other way. By the time we cleared the crest of the hill, and it was safe to pass, the car we were pursuing was long gone.

We then drove to the Freeport Police Station and reported the incident. After this, we never had another intruder at our house.

In 2012, I left Parkview after ten years of service as CEO and was proud of many accomplishments including being the longest tenured CEO in the hospital's history. However, I was proudest of never giving in to the bullies!

Theodore Lewis is the former CEO of Guam Memorial Hospital and has a healthcare consulting business in Bridgman, MI. He is collecting stories about lessons learned in life and can be reached at




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