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Stephens Mundy is CEO of CVPH in Plattsburgh and executive vice president for Northern New York for Fletcher Allen Partners. Photo: CVPH
Stephens Mundy is CEO of CVPH in Plattsburgh and executive vice president for Northern New York for Fletcher Allen Partners. Photo: CVPH

Partnerships, budget cuts reshape North Country healthcare

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Last month, North Country Public Radio launched an ongoing series where we're talking in-depth with some of the region's health care leaders.

This is a time of huge transition for the industry -- and huge pressure on rural hospitals, nursing homes, home-health programs and ambulance squads.

That's meant some big changes, including a decision last year by CVPH Hospital and the Elizabethtown Community Hospital to join an umbrella company headed by Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vermont.

Stephens Mundy is CEO of CVPH and serves as executive vice president for Northern New York for the new organization called Fletcher Allen Partners. He sat down last week with Brian Mann.

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"Last year was one of those years where you're dealing with numerous changes in healthcare, and any time you have to retool it, it affects people, and that was the difficult thing last year," Mundy says.

CVPH Hospital in Plattsburgh has cut staff and entered a new affiliation with Fletcher Allen in Burlington. Photo: CVPH
CVPH Hospital in Plattsburgh has cut staff and entered a new affiliation with Fletcher Allen in Burlington. Photo: CVPH
"I look at where we are and the decisions we've made over the past couple of years and the decision to affiliate with Fletcher Allen Partners was, I think, tremendous. We anticipate just from a purchasing savings this year, over $600,000 or $700,000 in savings."

Mundy says he hopes the partnership with Fletcher Allen will lead to creation of a residency program in Plattsburgh that will train new primary care physicians, a move that could help ease the North Country's physician shortage.

"We've put the resources at the primary care level and focus on better prevention and management," he says. "If we can improve the recruitment of primary care physicians in our community through this program...this w ill be a better place."

The shift to primary care has meant a drop-off in emergency room visits and hospital admissions, a change that has hurt the bottom line for hospitals across the region. Mundy says organizations like CVPH have to adapt to a better, more efficient model.

Dr. John Rugge founded the Hudson Headwaters Health Network in 1974, with his first clinic in Chestertown.  HHHN now operates fifteen clinics.  Photo: Brian Mann
Dr. John Rugge founded the Hudson Headwaters Health Network in 1974, with his first clinic in Chestertown. HHHN now operates fifteen clinics. Photo: Brian Mann
"The last thing I want to do is say, 'We can't develop a system because we need them to be readmitted after they're discharged,'" he says. "If [better primary care] decreases ER visits, and that decreases admissions, good."

Despite big changes in how healthcare is funded, Mundy says he thinks big hospitals will continue to play a pivotal role in the region's economy. "We had a reduction of twenty-plus employees last year, but we're still a 2300 employee organization," he notes.

For more from our in-depth conversation with Stephens Mundy, including discussion of the politics of Obamacare, click Listen above.

Hear our conversation with Dr. John Rugge, head of Hudson Headwaters Health Network based in Glens Falls.

 

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