K&J – North Elba Board Weighs in on Lake Placid Emergency Room

Adirondack Medical Center’s Emergency Room will be changing from a 24 hour operation to 15 hours per day as of June 16th… In The Town of North Elba, Councilman Jack Favro says it would have been nice if they had waited until fall but no matter what, the ambulance service is going to have to be ready..  North Elba Supervisor Robi Politi says no one on the board is endorsing the decision to reduce the hours of the Emergency Room from full time to 15 hours, but if it has to be part time, then 15 hours is better than 10 or 12.  “It would have been better if they had waited through the busy summer months.” Politi told the board, “we have the busiest time of the year right now, with Horse Show, Lacrosse, Soccer, Rugby and other events.”  Favro added that there are going to be some challenges for the Ambulance Service including the question of perhaps converting some of the volunteer time overnight to a paid EMT.. “Finding volunteers willing to do the work and stay certified is tough, and it’s going to be harder once the service has to respond with a patient to Saranac Lake overnight.”

K&J – 051414 – Emergency Room in Lake Placid – AMC Information Meeting – Betty Little and Robi Politi

Adirondack Health will become the first in the state to run a part time emergency room and they’ve had help from Senator Betty Little who has promoted keeping the emergency room in the region while allowing AMC some financial relief. The Ambulance service would not have been able to bill insurance for transport to an urgent care center which was one of the considerations early on in the plan. AMC had originally planned to convert the ER to an Urgent Care Center but the opposition to the concept became prohibitive while at the same time, the legislature was considering ways to support regulations that would allow for a part time emergency room. The Lake Placid Emergency Room becomes part time on June 16th and will be open daily for 15 hours per day from 8am to 11pm.

In a recent statement, AMC officials say “As part of the transition process, Adirondack Health and a Transition Task Force – comprised of Lake Placid-area residents, local elected officials and EMS agencies – are working together to ensure the community is properly informed and that every family and potential patient continues to receive access to quality healthcare.”

“The idea of change can be scary, but this innovative decision positions us – and the entire Lake Placid region – as a leader in adapting to the changing healthcare landscape,” said Chandler M. Ralph, Adirondack Health’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our process to reach this point was very comprehensive. It included a thorough analysis of our financials and quality of services offered. But more important, this was a result of Adirondack Health working closely with our community to achieve a creative and sustainable long-term vision for healthcare in our region.”

New hours for the emergency department in Lake Placid will be 8 a.m. – 11 p.m., 7 days a week. Adirondack Health’s emergency department in Saranac Lake will continue to be a 24-hour operation, and the Lake Placid Health Center hours are Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Hospitals across the state are increasingly challenged by a rapidly changing healthcare landscape,” said Senator Betty Little.  “The leadership at Adirondack Health has worked hard with surrounding communities to adjust, exploring multiple options to ensure high-quality care while also ensuring long-term financial viability.  I am hopeful that the best balance possible has been reached and, moving forward together, the hospital and the communities it serves will see the benefit in having done so.”

Together with members of the community, local and state officials, national and state healthcare experts and healthcare colleagues, Adirondack Health has been working to enhance the vital services – including emergency services – and systems physicians and clinical staff need to deliver 21st century care in the Adirondack region while ensuring the long-term financial health of the organization itself.

“Meeting the needs of today’s patients and preparing for a bright future as an integral part of the Adirondack region requires that we continue to adapt in light of healthcare reform occurring across the country,” said Adirondack Health Board Chairman Stan Urban. “The Board has listened to the community, our physicians and elected officials and feels this decision is consistent with our commitment to excellent care, visionary leadership and sound financial management.”

The number of patients served at the Lake Placid emergency room has declined by 22 percent since 2009, and has resulted in a loss of nearly $588,192 in 2012 and $896,325 in 2013 for the facility.

Dr. John D. Broderick, Chief Medical Officer for Adirondack Health, described how the trend of seeing fewer patients in Lake Placid presented an opportunity to rethink how care is delivered in the most appropriate medical setting. “The opportunity for doctors, nurses and emergency technicians to work together regularly is essential to maintaining a high level of care. Integrating staff and services will enhance the focus on the needs of patients and allow us to provide the best care possible. I’m confident it will also help us attract and retain the best and most qualified physicians for our community.”

“Our Medical Staff believes the change in hours of operation of the Lake Placid Emergency Department is safe and prudent for the individuals and families we serve,” said Dr. Waguih Kirollos, Adirondack Health Medical Staff President. “Healthcare is being provided in a new way throughout the nation; particularly, there is an increasing emphasis to move toward treating patients in the out-patient setting and less in an emergency room or hospital.”

This shift in care is taking place at Adirondack Health where the data shows a 12 percent decline in the number of patients needing hospitalization, but an 18 percent increase in the number of patients receiving primary care since 2009.  By placing a greater emphasis on preventive care, people are staying healthier longer and relying less on emergency care and possibly hospitalization.

Rick Pollack, Executive Vice President of the American Hospital Association, echoed Ms. Ralph’s sentiment, “Nationally, one in four hospitals are financially vulnerable. Despite repeated federal and state cuts, health systems like Adirondack Health are actively pursuing ways to increase value, improve performance and enhance quality and patient safety while reducing costs. This proactive approach will best position Adirondack Health to serve the current and future needs of the entire region.”

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