Lake Placid, NY — As costs skyrocket due to inflation and staffing shortages across the country continue to affect every industry, Adirondack Health is being forced to cut costs as they are on pace to lose nearly $10 million this year.
As a result, Adirondack Health has officially submitted a closure plan to the New York State Department of Health for its part-time emergency room.
Officials from Adirondack Health wrote an open letter to the community explaining why they believe closing the emergency room is the best course of action. With the hospital set to lose close to $10 million this year, they said they had to look at every possible solution.
According to the letter, the ER averages about 8 visits a day and after analyzing all visits from the first half of 2022, the hospital found that just 2% of their visits were true emergencies.
“We’ve been talking for the past few months about making this change,” said Aaron Kramer, President, and CEO of Adirondack Health. “Obviously an extremely difficult decision for everyone involved, you know it has a large community impact we understand that.”
Ultimately it was a decision that passed the Board of Directors unanimously and now waits approval by the State Department of Health, which can take up to 90 days.
While there is not a concrete plan yet, Kramer believes the hospital can use the space more efficiently. “We also think there’s a better way to provide care to those folks who were using the ER. Our intent is to provide a walk-in type service that would meet the majority of the types of visits we were seeing in the ER”.
Kramer said there is no timeline in place but he hopes the walk-in service would be open before the emergency room closes.
Wilmington Town Supervisor Roy Holzer said he understands the financial concerns that caused this decision but believes the hospital should have had more public comment before the decision was final.
Holzer was a member of the Volunteer Fire Department and an EMT and believes the closure of the ER will put more strain on volunteers. “If you have a life-threatening situation like doing CPR or something like that, just from Wilmington to Lake Placid felt like a lifetime, so I can’t imagine having to do advanced life support from Wilmington or Whiteface mountain, all the way to Saranac Lake.”
Holzer does not believe the closure will put patients at risk but the time commitment of 3-4 hours for volunteers may lead to needing a paid EMT service in the region.