Possible hospital closing sends shockwaves through Kingston
KINGSTON, N.Y. — HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, the operator of Kingston and Benedictine hospitals, said on Friday that financial strains have resulted in the company “actively pursuing a single-campus alternative” — an indication that one of the two hospitals, less than a mile apart in Midtown Kingston, could close.
In a press release issued early Friday afternoon, HealthAlliance said it is “evaluating options necessary to reduce expenses and improve efficiency, including actively pursuing a single-campus alternative in Kingston.”
David Lundquist, the president and chief executive officer of HealthAlliance, said in a phone interview later Friday that closing one of the hospitals is not yet a certainty and that the company has not decided which one to shutter, or when, if it becomes necessary.
He also said he did not know how many of HeatlhAlliance’s 2,400 employees would be affected by a shutdown.
Lundquist said the company will have a better idea several weeks from now about what course of action it will take.
“If you are in business in today’s world you have to redefine and restructure to meet the demands of the new economy,” Lundquist said, adding that HealthAlliance wants to do what is necessary “to be sure that we provide the best services.”
He would not speak specifically about HealthAlliance finances but said the company has been operating at a loss for the “past couple of years” and that dwindling reimbursements from the government are compounding the problem.
Lundquist said the current evaluation of HealthAlliance’s operations is being done in “the spirit of what brought the alliance together in the first place, and that was to be sure that this community had healthcare into the future with generations to come.”
Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo said the closing of either hospital “would have a devastating impact” on the city.
“I am hopeful that the hospital administration can avoid closing either campus, as they are major employers and provide service to the community,” Gallo said. Continued...
Debbie Brown, the Kingston Common Council’s minority leader, said she was “stunned” by the news.
“Most disturbing is the possibility of layoffs in all departments,” said Brown, R-Ward 9. “This region cannot face any more unemployment. Both hospitals are major employers in the city of Kingston and Ulster County.”
State Sen. John Bonacic tried to put a positive spin on the possible closing of a hospital.
“This obviously could have substantial impacts on the community, or it could result in even better services,” Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, said in a prepared statement. “In Orange County, we just saw two hospitals close and merge physically into one facility. The consensus that I have heard in that case is that there is better patient care with more modern technology.
“While this (the Kingston situation) is alarming to many people ... there may be opportunity here for better healthcare depending on how this moves forward.”
Kingston Hospital, founded in 1894, is at Broadway and Foxhall Avenue. Benedictine, founded in 1901, is on nearby Mary’s Avenue. Each has about 150 patient beds.
The two hospitals have operated under a single parent company but maintained separate campuses since 2008, the result of a state mandate issued in late 2006. The mandate included an ultimatum that one of the hospitals could be shut down if an affiliation was not forged.
After the affiliation was completed, services that were offered at both hospitals were consolidated into one or the other. For instance, the city’s only emergency room and maternity ward are now at Kingston Hospital.
Both buildings also underwent significant renovations after the affiliation was complete.
One sticking point in the affiliation was reproductive health services, such as abortion, because Benedictine is a Catholic hospital and does not perform such procedures. The compromise was the creation of the Foxhall Ambulatory Surgery Center, behind Kingston Hospital, where such procedures as abortions, tubal ligations and vasectomies are offered. Continued...
Mark Genovese, a spokesman for the New York State Nurses’ Association, said both hospitals provide “vital” care to the community.
Genovese said closing either facility would be a loss of “access.”
HealthAlliance also operates Margaretville Memorial Hospital in Delaware County, as well as the Mountainside Residential Care Center, a skilled nursing facility in Margaretville, and Woodland Pond at New Paltz, a continuing-care retirement community.
Kingston and Benedictine are among three hospitals in Ulster County. The other is Ellenville Regional Hospital.
Press Release Health Alliance of the Hudson Valley Exploring Campus Changes in Kingston to Improve Efficien...
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