Public debate is good

The decision to make the Lake Placid emergency room part time was a good compromise. The additional 60 days of research and discussion conducted by Adirondack Health’s Board of Trustees was a good first step to reach an agreement between the current 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week ER and the organization’s original plan to convert the ER to a part-time urgent care clinic due partly to financial constraints.

The dilemma was a difficult and challenging process, but one that needed to happen. Arguments for both sides held merit. A town that hosts numerous sporting events and also has challenging geographic terrain can have more emergencies than other towns of its size. Taking a chance on losing a life by transporting a patient to Saranac Lake might be risky. On the other hand, keeping the Lake Placid ER open around the clock when it serves few patients during the overnight hours might deplete the organization’s financial resources and impact the primary hospital for the region. Working together to find another option worked out well.

While there are more restrictions and restraints attached to running an ER than an urgent care clinic, there would at least be some savings for the organization in reducing the ER’s hours to part time. While it probably isn’t the savings that a complete conversion to urgent care would be, we are glad a compromise was found and hope that it receives approval from the state Department of Health.

We are glad that Adirondack Health held public meetings and included the community in the discussion. It is always better to have more engagement and perspective in order to come up with creative solutions, as was the case here.

We also hope that before the Lake Placid ER goes to part-time, that local medical providers work together to do what is best for the patients. That might mean coordinating hours with the existing Lake Placid urgent care center so local residents and visitors have a place to go to around the clock. We all know that emergencies can happen after the workday is done. It certainly would be comforting to know one facility is open days and one is open nights, and that both are prepared for whatever emergency that may happen.