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MaineHealth Grows Strong by Putting Patient Benefits First

Sue Pelletier, VP of HR for MaineHealth, believes the best job benefits come from serving others.

Ask Sue Pelletier about the benefits of working for MaineHealth, and her answer might surprise you. After working in the integrated healthcare network for 19 years, you’d expect such a seasoned employee to talk about the health coverage or retirement plans that her employer provides. As vice president of human resources, Pelletier can certainly talk in detail about those perks. But though she recognizes the value these advantages provide for the 18,000 employees in the MaineHealth network, it’s the non-profit’s corporate mission that comes foremost to her mind: “It’s the difference we make to our patients that’s the greatest benefit,” says Pelletier. “While my job doesn’t put me in direct contact with those we serve, I never forget that my work still has the power to touch and improve lives.”

To do that in a way that achieves MaineHealth’s goal of providing the highest level of care is no small task, especially when that service is delivered through eleven member-organizations spread throughout Midcoast, Western and Southern Maine. That job is achieved by balancing the economies of scale that can be realized through shared administrative services with the personalized care that is critical to nurturing good health.

MaineHealth’s integrated administration services are offered through three departments: Human Resources (HR), Information Services (IS), and Supply Chain, with Finance scheduled to be included soon. But the company remains flexible in their management model, taking a supporting role in some members’ local administrative departments.

Though the services that support MaineHealth’s clinical work are critical, those who administer them are part of the non-clinical workers who comprise only about a quarter of the network’s staff. But Pelletier shares how the single, enterprise-wide HR department she helps to administer (under the direction of Chief Human Resources Officer, Judy West) can be the most efficient option for hiring the physicians, nurses, med techs, and other clinical workers who constitute the bulk of MaineHealth’s medical workforce. “We match the candidates with the culture they’re after,” she notes. “A nurse seeking placement in a special care unit in a larger hospital like Maine Medical Center is looking for a very different work experience than one seeking a post in a smaller hospital or clinic. And since we’re charged with hiring for a broad range of institutions, we have a larger pool of positions to match with each individual applicant’s specialties and interests.”

With the responsibility for facilitating such large and varied hires, Pelletier uses a variety of channels to promote open positions, including intranet postings, web and print advertising, and social media. When asked about the Live and Work website, she was enthusiastic about its use for introducing potential candidates to the beauty and benefits of Maine. “I hear so many myths about living in Maine,” she says, “people think it snows six months of the year, or that we all live in the woods. The site helps promote the fact there are four distinct seasons for outdoor lovers to enjoy here, and cultural opportunities to explore within every region of the state. It helps show those “from away” that Maine really is a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Pelletier has a deep appreciation for the latter—a notion that underscores MaineHealth’s primary focus on improving the lives of the people they serve. Her story of a recent leadership meeting held at Maine Medical Center illustrates the deep value of that non-financial benefit. “They screened a 20th anniversary video of the work done by one of our member organizations: the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital,” shared Pelletier. “After seeing the courageous stories of families battling childhood cancer, I don’t think there was a dry eye left in the house. I went home grateful to be part of an organization devoted to that kind of work—but left that meeting with something even more valuable: a new appreciation for just how precious this life is.”

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