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NY critical care hospital gets emergency medicine support

It entered into an agreement with Syracuse Group to provide emergency medical physicians and supervisors to decrease wait time and increase providers

By Rebecca Madden
Watertown Daily Times

ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y. — River Hospital emergency department patients soon will experience a decrease in wait time and an increase in available medical providers, effective Aug. 12.

That is because River Hospital, 4 Fuller St., recently announced it has entered into an agreement with the Emergency Medicine Medical Service Group of Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, to provide emergency medical physicians in provider and supervisory capacities within River Hospital’s emergency department.

“I think it’s very significant,” said Ben Moore III, River Hospital chief executive officer. “What we wanted to do as part of our Vital Access Provider application is to increase the physician ratio for success.”

River Hospital is a critical-access hospital, which, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is certified to receive cost-based reimbursement from Medicare to improve the overall financial picture in order to reduce hospital closures. One of the many critical-access designation requirements is to have 24-hour emergency care.

As a critical-access hospital, Mr. Moore said, River Hospital may use physician assistants with a supervising physician off site, but this new partnership will allow the facility to have more emergency medical physicians and therefore decrease on-call and on-site rotations for providers. That alone will allow more medical providers to see more patients.

“They’ll also be helping us with backup, if necessary,” Mr. Moore said.

In a prepared statement, Upstate Medical University’s emergency medicine chairman, Dr. Gary Johnson, said Upstate appreciates “this chance to continue to improve the relationship with Upstate Medical University and Northern New York.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Moore said River Hospital’s emergency department tends to be busier throughout the summer with seasonal residents and vacationers along the St. Lawrence River.

The new agreement “provides a basis for bench strength” because it’s hard for a rural, critical-access hospital to recruit providers, he said. Many physicians are attracted to more urban areas.

“We’ve had to use locum tenens — contract physicians at agencies — at times,” he said. “We’d prefer to use someone like Upstate when they get to know us and we get to know them, which locum tenens don’t.”

The agreement aligns with part of River Hospital’s quality initiative, according to a news release issued Friday by the hospital, which is being funded through the state’s Vital Access Provider grant. Mr. Moore said the agreement was not done with the sequence in mind of moving toward an affiliation with any particular hospital, but other and “longer agreements are a possibility.”

Other regional critical-access hospitals, and those waiting for official word on such a designation, have affiliation agreements. Lewis County General Hospital, Lowville, is affiliated with St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, Syracuse, and both Carthage Area Hospital and Clifton-Fine Medical Center, Star Lake, have an affiliation with Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown.

River Hospital patient care has strengthened, Mr. Moore said, as there have been smaller agreements with area hospitals for specific speciality services.


©2014 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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