To see the future of health care in New York State, you may have to visit Ticonderoga – a town better known for its past.
“New York’s challenge is to bring financially sustainable, high quality healthcare to rural communities,” says Dan Sheppard, Deputy Commissioner in the state’s Department of Health. “The key lies in not just replacing old services but bringing into a community services it doesn’t already have and in improving over-all access to health care.”
Sheppard made his remarks at the March 1 opening of the new emergency medical care department at Ticonderoga’s Moses Ludington healthcare facility, a $9.1 million project that takes the place of the 15 bed in-patient facility that closed in 2015 and includes new out-patient departments, space for physical therapy, imaging, laboratories and a pharmacy.
The new emergency room complex is four times as large as its 1980s predecessor and includes larger patient bays, a four-bed observation unit and its own waiting area.
“A facility that meets 95% of a community’s needs, where travel is required only for hospital care in the event of unfortunate episodes, strikes a wonderful balance,” said Sheppard. “It took a lot of guts for this community to believe in this vision and to say ‘maybe clinging to a financially unsustainable, inpatient hospital is not the way to go.’”
Once “that vision” is complete, the newly renovated facility will be at the center of “a medical village” that will bring a variety of complementary, health-related services to one 70-acre campus.
Late last year, the campus was formally named the “Health and Living Center”.
“Health and Living Center’ is a name that came about naturally,” said Jane Hooper, director of community relations for Moses Ludington. “The organizations located on this campus serve many healthcare needs, while also providing housing in the form of a nursing home and assisted living facility. It’s a perfect marriage of two very important needs within the region.”
Plans are underway for Moses Ludington to become part of University of Vermont Health Network within the next few months, said Hooper. A multitude of administrative and functions have already been combined, she added.
Dr. John R. Brumsted, the president and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Vermont Health Network, who also attended the opening, commented, “this project epitomizes what it means to transform health care: bringing services that are needed for a community to thrive in a model that is financially sustainable. It is already serving as an example throughout the North Country and Vermont.”
As of now, the campus is without a primary care facility, but that is a defect that will soon be remedied, said Dr. Tucker Slingerland, the CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network.
Slingerland said HHHN, the network of 17 health care centers serving an area that extends from Saratoga County to the Canadian border, plans to open a 16,000-square-foot health center on the campus within the next two years.
The network has applied for New York State grants to help pay for the $7.6 million health center, but Hudson Headwaters and UVM Health will also contribute financially, said Slingerland.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity exists for the addition of other health-related services in the future, and primary care physicians’ offices are the next step,” said John Remillard, the executive who has presided over the reconstruction project. “We are also working with other organizations, in an effort to include dental and other services. We fully expect that the Health and Living Center will grow over time.”
A version of this article first appeared on the Lake George Mirror.
Photos, from above: HHHN CEO Tucker Slingerland MD with UVM Health CEO John Brumsted MD; and (left) Moses Ludington CEO John Remillard and DOH Deputy Commissioner Daniel Sheppard (right).