KIM SMITH DEDAM Press-Republican
— LAKE PLACID — New legislation would amend public health law to allow Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid to be open part time.
The bill, still sitting in the Senate Health Committee, would address legal restrictions as Adirondack Health studies a plan to change the AMC Emergency Department to an immediate-care center.
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Concern about that idea has been voiced by local government bodies, the Olympic Regional Development Authority and emergency-services providers.
A Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury); the Assembly version was introduced by Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Glens Falls).
As written, the legislation would “add a new section 2805-w to authorize Adirondack Medical Center to operate a part-time off-campus emergency department in the Village of Lake Placid.”
The measure is specific to AMC Lake Placid and comes with requirements for follow-up review.
“The bill provides that such off-campus emergency department shall operate for at least 12 hours a day each day of the year and that the emergency department is to meet all requirements established by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services for a provider-based off-campus emergency department as well as those requirements established by the (health) commissioner for emergency services provided by general hospitals.”
The language does allow some flexibility for part-time hospital operation, saying: “The bill further allows the (health) commissioner to waive those requirements that cannot be reasonably applied to an off-campus part-time emergency department.”
The proposed bill gives Adirondack Health “the flexibility to provide a part-time emergency room service open a minimum of 12 hours per day, with longer hours provided when needed for coverage of major events in Lake Placid.”
The new law, as a pilot initiative, would require follow-up reports to the governor and the legislature, within 18 months, on “the services provided at such hospital and the effectiveness of the services in providing care to residents of and visitors to Lake Placid and its surrounding communities and the applicability of such model in other parts of the state.”
Should the legislation clear committee and earn general Assembly and Senate approval, it would go into effect immediately.
But it did not move from the Health Committee on Wednesday. And lawmakers are expected to close deliberations on Friday for summer recess.
The hospital proviso gained backing from the Healthcare Association of New York State this week.
In a memorandum of support, the association said: “It is vital that health-care policy reflect the needs of rural safety-net providers. …This legislation recognizes the role that the current facility plays and enables Adirondack Medical Center to continue providing access to high-quality health-care services in the Lake Placid community.”
Adirondack Health and its trustees have held several public meetings since April, gathering input on their plan to turn the Lake Placid Emergency Department into an immediate-care center.
Part of the issue, according to doctors who spoke at public information sessions, is that state law requires hospitals to maintain laboratory and emergency services around-the-clock, seven days a week.
Trustees at Adirondack Health tabled any action on May 30, pending further research.
Hospital officials reported that Lake Placid’s Emergency Department is losing nearly $500,000 annually.
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