By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
Why did Glens Falls Hospital choose to affiliate with Albany Medical Center, as announced at a Oct. 17th press conference?
“Glens Falls Hospital has a long and proud history of independence, and up to a year ago, the thinking was to remain independent, but the national changes in health care are causing us all to rethink things,” Glens Falls Hospital president and CEO Dianne Shugrue told The Chronicle.
“With less financial resources, we are rethinking how we provide care. And the obligation of this hospital and this board is to fulfill our mission to provide access to quality, patient-centered health care to our community. That’s what we are doing….
“This ensures the long-term viability of Glens Falls Hospital.
“Albany Med has long been recognized as the region’s premier health care deliverer, and we are thrilled to be the third community hospital to join their network,” which also includes Saratoga Hospital and Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson.
Albany Med president and CEO James Barba said at the press conference, “What a privilege to have you vote confidence in the partnership.
“I pledge here today that we will not let you down. All of the vision you had to bring us together will happen. That’s my promise to you, and we will deliver on that.”
Albany Med’s network now will total 1,507 beds and nearly 2.5-million annual outpatient visits, said press information.
The governing boards, medical staffs, employees and fund-raising arms of the hospital will remain separate.
Glens Falls Hospital officials say the affiliation won’t impact employment levels here. The hospital, the region’s largest employer, has some 2,700 employees.
Ms. Shugrue said news of the link-up “has been very well received in our organization. It was almost like it was the natural next step. I’m thrilled.”
She said they’d talked to Albany Medical Center previously, “and this time we talked to numerous potential partners. We’re attractive. People want to work with us.
“We had a fiduciary responsibility to the community to cast a wide net. We looked locally, regionally, within the state and out of state. We looked at traditional health care organizations, insurance companies and physician groups, and it turns out the best fit was right in our backyard.”
Dr. Sean Bain, the South Glens Falls native who is president of Glens Falls Hospital’s medical staff, said, “This affiliation makes the beginning of a new chapter in Glens Falls Hospital’s story. It allows us to maintain the structure of local governance while assuring quality care.
“And we will be able to provide local patients with coordinated access to specialists and sub-specialists that otherwise might be challenging to support.”
Glenda Kelman, the Glens Falls native who chairs the department of nursing at Russell Sage College and also chairs Glens Falls Hospital’s Board of Governors, said the new affiliation “will also allow us to recruit and retain quality physicians.”
Officials said it also save money in purchasing. “By buying our supplies in large quantities, we have achieved significant savings over the last five years,” Dr. Steven Frisch, Executive Vice President and General Director of Hospital Systems at Albany Med, told the press conference.
Albany Med CEO Mr. Barba said the savings were in the “eight figures” range, meaning at least $10-million.
Robert Cushing, Albany Med’s board chairman, said, “We knew we needed to find ways to ensure better alignment of our services, and experience has shown us that institutions working together can achieve more than working individually.”
Ms. Shugrue said, “When this process is finished, I want to shout it from the rooftops. We want everyone to know we are affiliated with Albany Medical Center.
“Right under our new signs on the building, it will say ‘Proudly affiliated with Albany Medical Center’.”
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