HHHN clinic to open in former Lake Placid ER

Pending OK from state, federal agencies, primary care clinic will open this summer

LAKE PLACID — A primary care health center operated by Hudson Headwaters Health Network is set to open this summer in Lake Placid’s former emergency room on Old Military Road.

The practice will include family medicine, care management, family planning, preventative women’s health services and integrated behavioral health, according to a press release from HHHN. Though the health center is still waiting on approval from the state Department of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration, renovations began on March 18. According to HHHN Director of External Affairs Pamela Fisher, the renovations at the former ER are “minimal” and “internal only.”

HHHN submitted an application to the DOH to open a primary care office in Lake Placid last year before the closure of the Lake Placid ER.

This new health center opening comes as healthcare options in Lake Placid dwindle and the region as a whole struggles to retain medical staff. Mountain Medical Services’ urgent care center on Saranac Avenue has been closed for a few years and most remaining practitioners are affiliated with Adirondack Health, which owns the building HHHN’s new health center will be in.

Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin said that the health center’s announced opening was “great news.”

“I think it’s going to give people more choices and more accessibility to doctors and healthcare,” he said.

North Elba town Supervisor Derek Doty agreed, saying that primary care facilities are “greatly needed” in the area.

“I’m happy to see that all our medical needs seem to be met and certainly welcome Hudson Headwaters with their new venture here,” he said.

The health center will accept same-day appointments for “acute needs” such as coughs, cold or flu, rashes, ear infections, urinary tract infections and minor injuries.

This health center will not function as an ER or urgent care clinic; emergent injuries will still need to travel to the ER at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, as well as any EMS calls.

HHHN is a Federally Qualified Health Center. This means that it is a federally-funded nonprofit health center that accepts the Medicaid insurance used by many moderate- to low-income residents and focuses its work on underserved communities. FQHCs charge for their services on a sliding scale based on their patients’ abilities to pay.

“As a nonprofit, FQHC, our mission is to expand primary care access,” Hudson Headwaters CEO Dr. Tucker Slingerland said. “The new location in Lake Placid will be a helpful addition to the vital primary care access that has been provided by Adirondack Health, a fellow safety-net provider, and other providers for many years.”

Adirondack Health, which owns the building, will continue to operate the other services in the facility, including its primary care practice on the second floor. HHHN and Adirondack Health share other facilities; HHHN’s Saranac Lake Family Health clinic is located inside AMC in Saranac Lake.

The new health center is expected to create six new healthcare jobs in Lake Placid, with more opportunities by the end of the year, according to Fisher. HHHN is currently recruiting physicians, internists, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

HHHN has 23 health centers across the North Country, including locations in Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. The group submitted an application last July to open a health center in Lake Placid, though at the time, it was unclear where the health center would be located.

The ER in Lake Placid closed last August, citing financial challenges, low patient volumes and staffing shortages. Adirondack Health President and CEO Aaron Kramer told the Enterprise in October 2022 that Lake Placid’s ER averaged fewer than eight visits a day during the first six months of 2022. The low patient volumes translated to a $2.2 million loss for Adirondack Health, according an open letter from Adirondack Health last July.

The ER closure was met with heavy criticism from the community, especially from former Wilmington town Supervisor and EMT Roy Holzer, who worried that first responders’ live-saving work would be made even more difficult by longer travel times to the ER.

“I can tell you right now, when we had someone in cardiac arrest, you could not get to Lake Placid hospital quick enough (while) doing CPR on an individual,” he said. “So can you only imagine doing another 10 miles with someone from our neck of the woods going into full cardiac arrest?”


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