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

Adk. Health holds off on Lake Placid ER conversion

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Adirondack Health's Board of Trustees has postponed a decision on whether to convert the emergency room at its Lake Placid hospital to an urgent care clinic. In an email to the organization's staff Thursday night, Adirondack Health CEO Chandler Ralph said a decision will be put off for another 60 days to allow for additional study. And some stakeholders are calling for an independent review of the proposal.

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Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

          Adirondack Health spokesman Joe Riccio said Thursday’s decision came after the organization’s board reviewed the public input from a series of community meetings held over the past month.

          “Upon review, the board has decided there is a need to factor in additional study, community input and give the process more thought in the context of our broader mission and strategic plan,” Riccio said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”

         

Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said Thursday night he was pleased the hospital’s board has agreed to step back and look at the issue more carefully, “I believe it gives us more time to see if something can be put together that will not only meet the objectives of Adirondack Health but most importantly give our residents and visitors alike the assurance that they’re going to continue to have that excellent health care close to home,” Randall said.

          Adirondack Health officials have said the volume of patients at the Lake Placid ER doesn’t justify keeping it open, that it isn’t equipped with modern medical technology and that most seriously ill patients already are taken to the Saranac Lake ER. They also say the Lake Placid ER lost roughly $500,000 last year, which is no small sum given some of the financial constraints the organization is facing.

          But many Lake Placid residents bitterly oppose the plan to convert the around the clock ER to a 12- or 16-hour urgent care, saying it would threaten their safety and that of the area’s many visitors and seasonal residents.

          Over the last week, pressure had intensified on Adirondack Health’s board to either reject the proposal or at least postpone a decision on it.

          The state Olympic Regional Development Authority came out against the plan on Monday. The following day, Lake Placid village and North Elba town leaders called on the board to delay a decision and pursue an independent review of the options. Randall said too many questions remain unanswered, such as the potential impacts to local ambulance squads and the EMS system.

 “Sometimes the answers that were provided, in my opinion, were not complete, and occasionally even misleading, and occasionally conflicting,” Randall said.

          Riccio said the additional study the board is planning over the next 60 days will be done internally. Asked if there’s a need for an independent, outside review of the proposal, Riccio said he couldn’t immediately answer that question.

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