Adirondack Medical Center-Lake Placid site mismanaged for years

I am saddened that the management of Adirondack Medical Center has allowed the Lake Placid site to atrophy for many years due to poor management, lack of modern technology and total lack of concern for the citizens of Lake Placid and the surrounding area.

Since merging in 1991 with General Hospital of Saranac Lake, the Lake Placid Emergency Department has had minimal structural and technical improvements, made mostly due to regulatory requirements. The improvements included a new ambulance bay and minimally rearranging the existing emergency room. The ER did get a clean utility room and a bigger nurses’ station while providing 24-hour “excellent health care close to home.” Meanwhile, the management of AMC has grown, added health centers and then closed the Wilmington Health Center due to loss of revenue. (In my opinion it was due to poor management and poor promotion of the site, and yes, I used the Wilmington Health Center when it was open.)

What is the reason that AMC is talking of closing the Lake Placid ER? The loss of revenue? It isn’t equipped with modern technology? Or poor management? The bigger question is who has been responsible for not equipping the Lake Placid ER with modern technology since the merger in 1991? AMC-Lake Placid has needed a CT machine for years! This is one major reason people get bypassed to Saranac Lake; why has this not happened? The management is using tunnel vision. Since the merger AMC has chosen to purchase two nursing homes (both functioning at negative revenue since purchase), a dialysis center – now two units with three managers – and a new wound center in Saranac Lake, and talks of adding another health center in Saranac Lake with the same management that has lost money for all the health centers thus far.

I have been a concerned citizen of this community since 1992. My children graduated from the Lake Placid school system and still live here. I am a business owner in Wilmington and have expanded my business significantly since purchasing it in 1992. I volunteered on the Wilmington rescue squad have ridden the ambulance and seen how well the health care delivery system can work. I am also a registered nurse with 33 years of ER experience, of which the last 21 years were spent working in the Lake Placid emergency room (so I do have some background). I have seen firsthand the compassion and dedication of the staff at the Lake Placid site on an ongoing basis. These services have been available not only to our residents but also to the wonderful visitors who come to enjoy this beautiful region. Many lives have been saved due to dedicated (and well trained) staff and the availability of “excellent health care close to home.”

Concern doesn’t seem to be part of the vocabulary of AMC management. I resigned my position February 2013 due to growth of my business. Not one person in management ever called or emailed me to say good-bye or to wish me well – no exit interview … nor did I expect it. After all, Lake Placid is “the ugly stepchild” of AMC.

If AMC needs to cut money and having a second ER is a duplication of services, then why is there talk of putting in a fourth health center in Saranac Lake, or is the management also considering moving the Lake Placid health center to Saranac Lake? What about vested interest? The CEO of Adirondack Health is not an Adirondack Health employee. The medical director of Adirondack Health lives 100 miles away in Saratoga Springs. What is our board of trustees thinking, or more importantly, what have they been told to believe? If we as a community want “excellent health care close to home,” then we had best stand up and make some noise!

Mary Ellin Carmelitano, BSN, RN, lives in Wilmington where she is owner and Operator of North Pole Resorts.