June 9, 2013

Editorial: Coping with ER closure

The concerns raised by ORDA about the proposed closure of the Adirondack Medical Center Emergency Department in Lake Placid have added a substantial new wrinkle to the debate.

Adirondack Health, the parent entity for AMC in Lake Placid and the much larger AMC hospital in Saranac Lake, is in a difficult position. It makes sense economically to close the Lake Placid emergency operation, which is bleeding about $500,000 a year.

Hospitals all over the country are struggling under the burden of oppressive regulations, the changing health-care equation and reduced revenue. Here in the North Country, all the hospitals have cut staff and reduced offerings in an attempt to stem the leakage.

The closure of AMC Lake Placid is just one step that Adirondack Health may take to cut costs as part of its necessarily painful "fiscal recovery plan."

But to say the idea has been met with concern is putting it mildly. It appears that only the hospital administration and some of its staff wholly endorse the idea. Opposition has been voiced by several local-government boards, volunteer ambulance companies, the Essex County Office of Emergency Services and community members.

The Adirondack Health Board of Trustees already faced an unpopular decision if it voted to approve the closure. But now the Olympic Regional Development Authority has weighed in, and the stakes have escalated considerably.

ORDA Board Chairman Pat Barrett said in a statement: “It is felt that future bids for conventions and gatherings will be affected by the potential closure of this facility. ORDA operates competitive and recreational venues and feels that closure of the Lake Placid emergency room would have a negative impact on guests, athletes in training and competitors.”

Now, you are hitting the community in two places that really hurt: its economic health and its reputation as a world-class sports and convention venue.

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