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Adirondack Health is also considering converting its around-the-clock emergency room in Lake Placid to a 12-hour urgent care center as another cost-cutting move. Photo: Mark Kurtz
Adirondack Health is also considering converting its around-the-clock emergency room in Lake Placid to a 12-hour urgent care center as another cost-cutting move. Photo: Mark Kurtz

More job cuts at Adirondack Health, ER cuts considered

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One of the North Country's largest employers is cutting staff for the second time since December. Adirondack Health is blaming these 18 layoffs on a loss of Medicare revenue and an ongoing decline in in-patient numbers.

The organization let another 17 workers go in December.

Adirondack Health is also considering converting its around-the-clock emergency room in Lake Placid to a 12-hour urgent care center as another cost-cutting move.

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Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

It's a bustling Saturday afternoon in the village of Lake Placid. Lisa Keegan, an emergency room nurse for Adirondack Health, stands under the awning of a vacant storefront on Main Street. She's collecting signatures on a petition urging her employer to keep the emergency room at its Lake Placid hospital open.

"The community of Lake Placid and a lot of the staff at Adirondack Medical Center feel that this is not a safe thing for the community of Lake Placid," Keegan said.

So far, Keegan says about 1,000 signatures have been collected on petitions circulating around the community over the last two weeks.

She says she knows Adirondack Health is in a difficult financial position but feels the ER in Lake Placid shouldn't be targeted.

"I understand the hospital is in a crunch right now. We lost a lot of money. So they're looking at ways to cut back."

Just how much money has the hospital lost? Adirondack Health spokesman Joe Riccio said the organization lost $1.2 million in revenue through elimination of a Medicare provision in the fiscal cliff negotiations. More recently, Riccio said the automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration have cost Adirondack Health another $500,000.

"That's nearly $2 million in revenue reductions in the first three months of this year," Riccio said. "It's something we were aware of but we were hoping and advocating hard against, because the effects are, as you see, not good."

The "effects" were announced late last week. Adirondack Health is laying off 18 full-time employees and reducing the hours of another 15 full- and part-time workers.

Riccio said all of Adirondack Health's patient care areas will remain properly staffed, despite the cuts, and the affected workers will receive outplacement support.

He said the layoffs were the option of last resort but are the result of a significant ongoing shift in health care.

"We have to radically rethink how we approach health care delivery, not just here in our region but throughout the country," Riccio said Thursday. "You're seeing a significant shift in in-patient volumes. There's been a dramatic focus on patients getting the right care at the right time and in the right place, and I think you're going to be seeing a lot more of this, and that's OK because you're doing what's best for the patient."

Back on Main Street, Lisa Keegan said she wasn't surprised at this latest round of layoffs coming so soon after another 17 in December.

"I think they're trying the best they can to preserve what we have, but they have to cut somewhere," she said. "Unfortunately staff is – that's where the money is. I understand there will be layoffs, but I still believe the Lake Placid community, surrounding communities and our tourists need to have an emergency room."

The New York State Nurses Association said last week that Adirondack Health's board was poised to make a decision last Thursday on converting the Lake Placid ER to an urgent care center. It called on the board to delay the vote.

Riccio said the board didn't make a decision, but he declined to answer additional questions other than saying the community would have a chance to weigh in on the issue.

Reporter Chris Knight's reporting is courtesy of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. For more, go to AdirondackDailyEnterprise.com.

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