Fate of Lake Placid ER still unknown

SARANAC LAKE – Residents and local officials in Lake Placid, employees of Adirondack Health, and the Enterprise were still awaiting word this morning on the fate of the emergency room at Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid.

Adirondack Health’s Board of Trustees met behind closed doors for several hours Thursday night to consider a controversial proposal to convert the Lake Placid ER to an urgent care clinic. The meeting wrapped up by 10 p.m., but Adirondack Health officials hadn’t released any information about what, if any, decision was made as of the Enterprise’s press deadline this morning.

Adirondack Health spokesman Joe Riccio wrote in an email that he planned to meet with CEO Chandler Ralph at 9 a.m. and “will know after that.”

Adirondack Health officials first announced the plan to convert the Lake Placid ER to an “immediate care center” in March. They’ve said the volume of patients at the ER doesn’t justify keeping it open full-time, that it isn’t equipped with modern medical technology and that most seriously ill patients already are taken to the Saranac Lake ER. They’ve also said the Lake Placid ER lost roughly $500,000 last year, although some have questioned the formula hospital officials used to arrive at that number.

Many Lake Placid residents have strongly criticized the plan, saying the loss of 24-hour emergency care would threaten their safety and that of the area’s visitors and seasonal residents. Local ambulance squads have also raised concerns about the proposal, which has been opposed by the New York State Nurses Association, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, the Lake Placid village and North Elba town boards, and state Sen. Betty Little.

“We have so much activity in Lake Placid. You can’t be an Olympic center and not have emergency services here,” Little told North Country Public Radio last month.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.