Six medical facilities in the greater Capital Region will receive grants totaling nearly $32 million as part of a $491 million state initiative to provide better health care to New Yorkers.
The state money is designed to preserve and expand patient access to high-quality care through a transformative effort to get health care facilities ready to meet future health care needs.
“Now, more than ever, we need to protect health care in New York and ensure the system in place is meeting the needs of current and future generations of New Yorkers,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in announcing the grants.
“While others seek to decimate our hospitals and reduce access to quality health care, we are investing to help ensure a stronger, healthier New York for all,” he added, in an apparent reference to the effort to repeal Obamacare.
The biggest grant in the Capital Region went to Glens Falls Hospital: Nearly $20 million to build a “medical village,” sort of a hospital within a hospital that will boost the capacity for ambulatory care and telemedicine.
Other grants announced Tuesday:
- Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Scotia, $1.65 million.
- Equinox, Albany, $2.08 million.
- Hoosick Falls Health Center, $2.91 million.
- Nathan Littauer Hospital, Gloversville, $2.99 million.
- Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, Hudson, $2.2 million.
Glens Falls Hospital President and CEO Dianne Shugrue said the $19.96 million grant will cover about two-thirds of the cost of constructing the roughly 30,000-square-foot medical village, which she said will greatly improve the hospital’s ability to vector patients toward the right care for them. It will also improve patient access to primary care services, not just at the main hospital but at its 23 other facilities in a five-county, 6,000-square-mile service area.
“Oftentimes, patients don’t have access to primary care,” she said. This leads to minor health problems developing, worsening, and going untreated until a visit is necessary to the emergency room, which is among the most expensive places to provide medical care, and not always the most effective.
“It really does come down to patients getting the right care at the right time in the right setting,” Shugrue said.
Glens Falls Hospital also will be able to improve its substance-abuse services with the grant, she said. There are a growing number of such patients with the current opioid abuse epidemic, and these patients often wind up in the emergency room.
“It’s not a good setting for that patient,” Shugrue said, nor an ideal situation for the non-drug patient in the next bed. “Our community is seeing a rising need.”
Antonio Alotta, administrator of Baptist Health, said the facility will use the grant to offer care to bariatric patients -- those who are extremely obese. This will be subacute care, which is short-term inpatient treatment for those recovering from surgery or other weight-related procedures before going home, as well as long-term care, for those unable to live at home.
Baptist will convert six beds in its existing subacute rehab unit and six in its long-term care unit for the new bariatric care unit. The state grant will pay for the renovation and for such specialized equipment for large people as wheelchairs, beds and ceiling-mounted lifts.
“It’s mostly accommodating the equipment that's the main thing,” Alotta said. “The equipment is very expensive.”
There is a need for this type of facility, he added.
“We think we’ll be filling a needed niche in the community, a needed service,” he said.
Baptist was very happy to learn of the grant.
“I’d like to thank the Department of Health, the Dormitory Authority and the the governor,” Alotta said.
He said there may not need to be additional hiring for the new unit -- mainly, there needs to be training of existing staff, particularly the dietary staff.
The 40-year-old facility has a workforce of about 250 and provides rehabilitative services to 300 to 400 people a year.
Nathan Littauer Hospital will use the grant to design, construct and equip a primary care and specialty care facility on its hospital campus.
“Primary care is the foundation for all health,” spokeswoman Cheryl McGrattan said, explaining the hospital’s plans for the funds. She noted that the hospital’s service region is officially designated a “health professional shortage” area, so some people living there will have trouble seeing a primary care physician.
“This grant will help our transformation as we evolve from a hospital into a health network,” President and CEO Laurence E. Kelly said. “Our community benefits when our hospital is strong and growing. As a small, independent, rural hospital we are in the unique position of expanding despite the changing dynamics in health care. And we are growing without losing our local roots.”
McGrattan said planning for the new facility will begin this summer, but it’s too soon to estimate a cost or predict whether additional employees will be hired to run it.
Littauer currently employs about 1,000 people.
Chelly Hegan, CEO of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, said the state calls the grants “transformative” and that’s just what they will be for her organization, allowing it to integrate services and technology with two affiliated Planned Parenthood organizations across upstate.
“It’ll be a smoother and more efficient operation for sure,” she said. “This is truly transformative for us.”
It also positions the three Planned Parenthood affiliates to be ready for future telemedicine services, she said, and to take advantage of the new technology that will become standard in the next five to 10 years.
“We need to be on the front edge of that, we can’t be playing catch-up,” Hegan said.
Upper Hudson is affiliated with Planned Parenthood North Country and Planned Parenthood Central Western New York. The three have 19 health centers in 15 counties and served 39,794 patients in 2016, some for multiple visits. The three didn’t affiliate for this project with Schenectady-based Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, which has 10 health centers in eight counties, because it uses an incompatible computer system, Hegan said.
Hegan said the $2.2 million grant is a much-appreciated show of support from the state for Planned Parenthood, a regular target of conservatives who don’t want federal taxpayer dollars going to an organization that provides birth control and abortion services.
“New York State has been been very supportive of broad access to reproductive health,” she said.
The $2.08 million grant awarded to Equinox is designated for an integrated clinic providing primary care, behavioral health, and pharmacy services.
The $2.91 million awarded to Hoosick Falls Health Center will be used for infrastructure and information technology improvements to improve resident safety, care quality and operational efficiency.