SCHENECTADY — Ellis Medicine will be discontinuing outpatient surgeries at its McClellan Street campus this year and moving the procedures and the people who perform them to Bellevue and Ellis hospitals.
The move was prompted by the fact that Bellevue, Ellis and McClellan — all within 2.5 miles of each other — are running well below capacity on outpatient procedures. Ellis Medicine said the move is still in the planning stages, so details aren’t certain, but it is expected to result in minimal or no job reductions, and to be completed in the first six months of this year.
The move comes amid a long-running proliferation of outpatient medical facilities in the Capital Region and beyond. In pursuit of increased revenue, reduced costs and patient convenience, hospitals are trying to move procedures outside of their walls and into the communities where their patients live.
One such expansion was the EmUrgentCare Clinic that Albany Medical Center opened in 2017 on upper Union Street, a short distance from Ellis Medicine's three facilities. When Albany Med in 2018 sought state approval for a potentially more lucrative regulatory classification of that facility, Ellis fought the request. It said the new Albany Med facility had siphoned off more than 2,000 procedures and $1 million in revenue from Ellis’ surgical facilities in a little more than a year, and predicted the regulatory change would cause further financial damage.
The state Department of Health ultimately approved the change.
Ellis last week said it couldn’t determine whether the reclassified Albany Med facility had further damaged its revenue, as it had feared. And Albany Med this week was unable to say whether it had seen an increase in revenue or patient volume since the reclassification.
Compounding the question of cause and effect, OrthoNY last year moved some of its outpatient procedures out of the McClellan Street Health Center to its new surgical center in Clifton Park. Depending on the needs of the patient or the demands of the procedure, OrthoNY had scheduled some operations at Ellis Hospital before the move and it continues to do so now.
The McClellan campus is the former St. Clare’s Hospital. Ellis Medicine was formed by a state-ordered merger in 2008 to Ellis Hospital, St. Clare’s and Bellevue Woman’s Center in Niskayuna.
The various other medical functions now sited at McClellan, including primary care, dental services, back-office operations and a nursing home, will continue there.
An Ellis Medicine spokesman said the workforce on site at McClellan will shrink with the transition but the goal is to retain the outpatient surgical teams and support staff as Ellis employees at a different location. Talented medical professionals are hard to recruit in the current labor market, he said.
He said investments in facilities are expected at Bellevue and Ellis hospitals as part of the transition.