KIM SMITH DEDAM
SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake Health Center celebrated its official opening Wednesday.
New services are in place here to help give people better access to health care.
Cyndee MGuire, chief operating officer of parent company Adirondack Health, cut the official ribbon.
She said the new facility is a focal point for change in the health-care industry, naming initiatives that support patient-based efficiency.
Among them is centralized scheduling at Adirondack Health that allows patients to call one phone number for appointments and followup visits, either with doctors, at the new Health Center or at any of the other three consortium health centers.
“We also have opened more slots every day for followup care after hospitalization,” McGuire said.
“The goal is for patients to have appointments the next day.”
The new Saranac Lake Health Center also has an after-hours line, a phone number that people can call with health questions to triage concerns with an on-call staff member.
That call can save people time and money, McGuire explained, by helping determine if a visit to an emergency room is needed.
“These are all changes for the better,” McGuire said, “with an increased focus on access to primary care. That is why it made sense to us to open a health-care center in Saranac Lake.”
The new facility is located on Old Lake Colby Road, behind Adirondack Medical Center. All patient records are connected to surgical and medical offices with a shared computerized system.
Saranac Lake Health Center occupies the second floor above the Wound Care and Bariatric Center.
Other community-based health-care centers run by Adirondack Health, are located in Tupper Lake, Lake Placid and Keene.
There are five primary-care providers, and each is accepting new patients, according to Dona Kilgore, a physician’s assistant at the Saranac Lake Health Center.
Working with Kilgore are Dr. Darci Beiras, staff pediatrician; Dr. Kenneth Ged; Dr. Mario F. Tagliagambe; and family nurse practitioner Mary Levitz.
“We provide many different services,” Kilgore said, “well-child visits, urgent-care visits, same-day appointments, sick visits.”
Kilgore said the 24-hour telephone line has proved helpful, especially for parents with small children and newborn babies.
With the hospital next door, the Health Center augments patient support services, she said.
“It’s especially nice to be in a network setting. This is a small, tight-knit community, and so we all know all the providers.”
FOR THE KIDS
Special for the grand opening Wednesday, Adirondack Health had organized a Teddy Bear Clinic for small children to bring in their favorite stuffed animals for “checkups.”
The exam area out on the front lawn was complete with Band-aids, gauze strips, lollipops and sterilized wipes, set up and on display for kids to explore.
Putting a stethoscope to a Winnie the Pooh bear, Kilgore assured 3-year-old Thomas Kilbourne-Hill that his special toy friend was in the peak of health.
Inside, and down the shiny new floors, Adirondack Health billing administrator Candy Edie had an entire room set up to explain how the new New York State of Health insurance exchange works.
Edie answered questions about different levels of health coverage available for people without insurance.
“Most people are wondering: ‘What do you mean there’s going to be a penalty if I don’t have health insurance?’,” Edie said of concerns people expressed most.
“Then they ask: ‘How are they going to know if I have health insurance?’”
Edie provided information sheets at the grand opening to help answer those and other questions.
The after-hours telephone system also drew interest from groups of people touring the center.
“After your physician’s office is closed, you usually only have an option to go to the ER or to urgent care,” explained Hazel Taft, nurse case manager for all four Adirondack Health health centers.
People who call the after-hours line will usually hear from a physician in 15 to 20 minutes.
“It’s a great program,” Taft said of their early success this summer. “A lot of information about care can be determined from questions by a member of the staff here.”
Email Kim Smith Dedam: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saranac Lake Health Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For an appointment, people can call 897-APPT. The after-hours number is: 897-2744.
Most insurances are accepted, including Medicaid and Fidelis. Information and resources are available for those who are uninsured or underinsured.