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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

Lake Placid ER compromise dies in Albany

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A bill that would have allowed Adirondack Health to run a part-time emergency room at its Lake Placid hospital didn't survive the end of the legislative session in Albany.

A Senate bill was approved Thursday night, but the Assembly version never made it to the floor for a vote before that chamber adjourned late Friday night.

The legislation had its critics, but supporters saw it as a possible compromise between a hospital looking to cut costs and a community wanting to keep its ER open.

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Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

Asked why the legislation never made it to the floor in his chamber, state Assemblyman Dan Stec noted that it was opposed by the New York State Nurses Association. The union had said a part time ER would jeopardize the safety of Lake Placid area residents and visitors, and put increased pressure on EMS services.

"I don't know for sure if that was the reason why it didn't come to a vote in the Assembly," Stec said. "I think another thing working against it, however, was it got to us late in the last two weeks of session. One thing I've learned down there is the last two weeks of session is a tough time to be introducing new legislation."

The Assembly and Senate bills would have amended state Public Health Law to allow Adirondack Health to run a part-time, off-campus ER as part of a five-year pilot program.

The legislation would have addressed some of the concerns that have been raised about a controversial plan from the organization to convert the Lake Placid ER to a 12-hour urgent care clinic. Among other things, local ambulance squads have said they can't bill patients' insurance companies if they take them to an urgent care center. Critics have also said an urgent care center isn't required to have as many staff on hand as an emergency department.

Town of North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi said the legislation would have been a fair compromise. He said the state has an interest in maintaining an ER in his event-driven community. "Other parts of the state don't put on the events that we have, and the state of New York expects, and so does the U.S. government, for Lake Placid to put on these major events that host the world. I think it's necessary for us to have an emergency room."

Now that the legislation has been defeated Politi said he's written to the governor to ask him help find a solution.

Stec said he's working with Sen. Betty Little and others to see if there's another way to address the issue. "We're going to pursue and see if there's anything we can do administratively that would basically try to get us to the same point, to a point where we have as much coverage for emergency situations as possible?"

In late May, Adirondack Health's Board of Trustees postponed a decision on converting the ER to an urgent care center for at least 60 days, saying it planned to study the proposal further and get additional community input.

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