SARANAC LAKE - North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi is hopeful that a committee being formed to ease the transition to a 12-hour emergency room in Lake Placid will find common ground.
Politi gave an update on the ER transition at Tuesday night's town board meeting at the Saranac Lake Town House.
He told board members he got an email last week from Ruth Leslie, director of the state Department of Health's Division of Hospitals and Diagnostic and Treatment Centers, in response to a letter Politi sent to the state.
Leslie told him her office is working with Adirondack Health CEO Chandler Ralph and her staff on a plan for the transition for the Lake Placid branch of Adirondack Medical Center. Discussions are currently focused on the question of how many hours a day the ER would operate and "what level of inpatient capacity, if any, is required."
"The Department of Health understands how important it is that athletes competing at Lake Placid's sporting venues have ready access to emergency care," Leslie wrote. "The Department will continue to work with Adirondack Medical Center to find a solution that is in the best interest of the citizens of Lake Placid, the hospital, the hospital employees and the athletes."
Politi said it's nice to know his letter didn't fall on deaf ears.
"Hopefully we have another watchdog over the process," he said.
Politi said Ralph has also asked him and village Mayor Craig Randall for advice on people to appoint to an ad hoc committee being formed to help figure out the new operating setup. Politi said he recommended town Councilman Jack Favro, director of the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, to represent both the U.S. Olympic Committee and the town, while Randall asked to be appointed himself.
Politi said he told Ralph he'd like to see at least half of the ER committee be chosen by the community. He recommended someone from the rescue squad and said a few nurses and community members have also expressed interest. He said he expects appointments to be made to the ER committee over the next few weeks.
The committee will work on figuring out time schedules for the new ER operating setup and how to communicate them with the public, Politi said. He said the ER is already getting a number of calls from people who want to know if it is open now.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," Politi said. "I felt this a great step forward."
Between the committee and the letter from Leslie, Politi said he feels like the town and village are partners with people at the state, federal and international level trying to figure out how to make a part-time ER work.
"We're all in this together, putting on these events for the world," Politi said.
Politi said he hopes Adirondack Health will wait to transition to a 12-hour ER only once a strong plan is in place, probably by the end of the year.
He noted that the town board was in favor of keeping the ER open 24 hours a day, but if the town can't have that, then a 12-hour ER is better than nothing. AMC officials have said the organization can't afford to keep the ER going all day, every day any longer.
"We understand that there is pressure to find a different way," Politi said.
Politi said the town may need to consider spending money to get an extra EMT on the rescue squad or find some other solutions to make up for the ER being closed part time.
Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.