Town, village set joint meeting on ER plan

LAKE PLACID – Village and town officials here plan to weigh in on Adirondack Health’s plan to convert the 24-hour emergency room at the Lake Placid hospital to an urgent care facility.

A joint meeting between the Lake Placid village Board of Trustees and the North Elba town board is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. May 28 at the town hall on Main Street.

“The village board and the town board will discuss a direction we want to go in terms of a statement letter to the (Adirondack Health) board of directors that will be delivered prior to their meeting at the end of May,” North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi said during Tuesday’s town board meeting.

Politi said he hopes Adirondack Health’s board of trustees will delay its vote on whether to convert the ER. The board is expected to make a decision at its May 30 meeting.

“I have spoken with state leadership, I’ve spoken with federal leadership and I’ve spoken with the (state) Department of Health, and this decision is going to be made by the board of directors of Adirondack Medical Center and no one else,” Politi said. “It’s totally their decision and the town and the village can have a position on this but ultimately, it’s those folks on that board of directors who are going to be making a decision on the direction of the Adirondack Medical Center and the Lake Placid emergency room.”

Several audience members asked questions Tuesday. One man, who didn’t give his name, asked if the loss of the emergency room will impact Lake Placid’s ability to host international winter sports competitions.

Politi said he spoke to Councilman Jack Favro, director of the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, about the United States Olympic Committee’s stance on the matter.

“The response really is, as it is in most places, ‘As long as there’s a facility in close proximity,'” Politi said. “If you’re in Baldassare or St. Moritz or any of those places and someone gets hurt badly, you’re on a helicopter and they may be going 50 miles or more. I didn’t find that there was a lot of strength in that particular argument.”

There were also several questions about the town’s option to buy the hospital property for $10 should Lake Placid lose its 24-hour emergency room. Politi stressed that the town’s option is in place “forever.

“The only way that they could sell the building would be if they opened a 24-hour emergency care facility in Uihlein (Living Center), and then moved there and then sell the building while they’re still there,” he said. “I can assure you that I’m a good negotiator. I wouldn’t worry about that.”

Politi said he thinks nobody will end up getting what they want.

“If you’ve been doing this as long as we have, you come to realize that, unfortunately, everyone wants more services, less taxes and no change,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be on their board of directors right now. Are there going to be any winners here? Probably not. It’s probably all losers. Both sides.”

At Monday’s village Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Craig Randall said Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish wrote the village this week “encouraging us to be very thoughtful of the impacts on our other community resources” that the ER-conversion could create.

“I think we’re all aware of the fact that it affects emergency ambulance services,” Randall said. “And although 911 calls may get addressed by appropriate people, the closing of the emergency room – which basically, today, is where many people go when they don’t know where else to go or there is no place else to go in the community – basically, we don’t know how they’re going to deal with those people.”

Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or