By Dan Hust
WOODRIDGE February 10, 2006 When the news was announced that Catskill Regional Medical Centers (CRMC) health clinic in Woodridge would be closing its doors, Joan Collins didnt get depressed.
The Woodridge village trustee got on the phone.
Together with Mayor Ivan Katz and the support of the village board, she reached CRMC board member Joyce Salimeno, who helped arrange a meeting with CRMC CEO Arthur Brien to research options.
And thanks to those efforts, Hudson River Healthcare (HRH) plans to open its second Sullivan County facility at that location in Woodridge.
In fact, if all goes as planned, users wont even face a gap between office visits, with HRH taking over the health clinic on March 1, the day after CRMC closes shop.
We want to maintain the continuity of care, explained Anne Kauffman Nolon, HRHs CEO for the past 29 years. We dont want them to lose primary care.
Based in Peekskill and governed by a board of directors heavy on the consumer side, HRH is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, not-for-profit, federally qualified health center, funded under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act as administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care, to operate Community and Migrant Health Centers, Health Care for Homeless and Public Housing Primary Care Programs.
In its 30 years of existence, HRH has grown to serve more than 42,000 patients in the Hudson Valley with health centers in Peekskill, Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Amenia, Dover Plains, Pine Plains, New Paltz, Goshen, and Walden.
Just last year, HRH made the move into Sullivan County by opening a clinic in an office complex in Monticello. The large building going up on Lakewood Avenue just off Broadway will be their new home in May, said Nolon.
With a mission toward serving those who find it difficult to afford healthcare, HRH is projecting a caseload of 5,000-7,000 patients a year, said Nolon, via the two facilities.
While Monticello will offer a larger array of services (like dentistry), Nolon said the Woodridge site would continue to offer family medicine the plan being to retain the current physicians assistant, nurse and clinical manager already employed there by CRMC. In time, she said, a full-time family doctor may work out of that office, but for now the idea is to have one overseeing the operations but not always on site.
The whole thing hinges on economics. Just as with CRMCs decision to abandon the clinic due to a lack of sufficient revenue and patients, HRHs plans require proper licensing (from the NYS Dept. of Health) and funding.
In the funding area, however, HRH has a leg up on CRMC, said CRMC CEO Art Brien.
Hospitals have limited resources, he remarked in an interview yesterday. Anne and Hudson River Healthcare have a relationship with the federal government we dont have.
Because of HRHs nature and mission, said Brien, it is eligible for far more reimbursements per patient than CRMC. And that will make all the difference in Woodridge.
The hospital and HRH are hammering out a purchase/lease agreement, with Brien hoping it will be a full buyout.
I think this is a good idea, he said. It fulfills their purpose for being.
And if for some reason HRH is delayed in opening the Woodridge clinic (possibly due to red tape at the state health level), Brien said residents can rest assured that CRMC is working on scheduling the HealthMobile for more visits in the area.
If at all possible, however, Nolon wants HRH to have a presence in Woodridge the first day of March.
Everyone feels responsible, she said, in not allowing the community to go without healthcare services.
Most of all Joan Collins and her fellow board members.
We have a lot of people in Woodridge who are not mobile due to financial and/or age reasons, she explained. It was very important that we kept quality healthcare available in the local area.
Everybody wants to do this.