---- — The outside of Elizabethtown Community Hospital belies the quality, efficiency and comfort offered inside.
The 25-bed hospital is tucked into a dated facade in Essex County's seat, but its patients can find many of the modern services they would otherwise have to drive many miles to reach in Plattsburgh, Burlington or Albany.
Technology has enabled the hospital to offer services such as oncology, MRIs, CT scans, inpatient rehabilitation, colonoscopies, emergency care and much more.
Some of the services are accomplished in regular clinics that specialists hold at Elizabethtown Community, with mobile diagnostic vans that park outside or through telemedicine technology that allows doctors in other locations to see, speak with and examine local patients over computer screens.
But the hospital also has first-class equipment of its own, including a 65-slice CT unit that has been in use for almost a year.
A staff of 250 people, counting per diem workers, sees to the needs of patients. Community Relations Director Jane Hooper talked recently with our editor and publisher during a hospital tour about the supportive, comforting care provided by staff who are treating neighbors from the North Country. CEO Rod Boula cited the quality and professionalism of their doctors, nurses and other caregivers. (On his wish list is improved mental-health services.)
Like many hospitals now, Elizabethtown Community is converting to private rooms, and other upgrades are on the horizon.
The most crucial attribute of this primary-care hospital is the savings it provides in travel time. People who live in surrounding communities don't have to drive to other facilities for most types of care. They can have it performed close to home.
And after surgery elsewhere, they can be transferred to Elizabethtown Community, so they can recover in a place where they know most of the caregivers as fellow community members and where family and friends are not inconvenienced when trying to visit.
ECH staff will follow their cases from pre-surgery appointments through to home visits after local rehab is complete, to confirm that patients are healing properly.
Now the hospital is turning to the community as it holds its 2013 fundraising campaign. Letters have been mailed out to people in Elizabethtown Community's service area and to donors in other places.
The money acquired through the annual fund drive is not intended to buoy hospital finances, which are already sound. It is used toward equipment upgrades, patient-care items or new services.
Between now and Dec. 31, people who appreciate the services offered at Elizabethtown Community can send tax-deductible contributions through the website at www.ech.org or by mailing checks made payable to Elizabethtown Community Hospital to: ECH Community Relations Department, P.O. Box 277, Elizabethtown, NY 12932.
People who value all the hospital does for them can show their appreciation by donating to this valuable community asset.