SARANAC LAKE - As it considers a controversial change at its Lake Placid hospital, Adirondack Health has opened a new health clinic in Saranac Lake.
The Saranac Lake Health Center is on the second floor of the organization's new medical office building, located on Old Lake Colby Road, above its Wound Care Center. It opened Monday, provides pediatric and primary care, and is now accepting patients, according to a news release from Adirondack Health.
The center is staffed by a team of three doctors who will split time between the new facility and other health centers in the area where they practice: Dr. Elizabeth Bartos, Dr. Darci Beiras and Dr. Kenneth Ged, who just joined Adirondack Health's medical staff. Physician Assistant Dona Kilgore and Family Nurse Practitioner Mary Levitz will also provide care at the new Saranac Lake center in addition to their duties at Adirondack Health's other centers.
At the new facility Monday, Ged said that the new center is all about access.
'We're here to work with the community, so they know there's someone they can come to on short notice for primary care," he said.
In a March meeting with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Adirondack Health officials said the creation of the Saranac Lake Health Center was part of a shift away from inpatient care and toward outpatient care.
"That's where the business is going," said Dr. John Broderick, the organization's chief medical officer. "That's where the lower cost is and the higher quality. In addition, we'll see what happens in 2014 (when a federal requirement that all U.S. citizens have health insurance takes effect). Perhaps there's going to be a lot more people insured as well."
"There's a need for primary care for people in the community, and with health care reform and much more people being able to get health insurance coverage, they're going to need primary care," Adirondack Health spokesman Joe Riccio said Monday. "Our expectation is this will serve that need."
In addition to staffing the Saranac Lake Health Center, Bartos will continue to practice family medicine at the Lake Placid Health Center, and Beiras will still provide pediatric care at the Tupper Lake Health Center.
Ged will see patients in Saranac Lake three days a week, and in Tupper Lake one day a week. He recently relocated to the area from New York City, where he worked at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Brooklyn. Before that he performed eight years of humanitarian medical work in Southeast Asia and Africa.
Patient records are computerized at Adirondack Health, so current health center patients wishing to be seen in Saranac Lake do not have to transfer their medical records from Keene, Lake Placid or Tupper Lake.
The Saranac Lake Health Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and accepts most insurances, hospital officials said. To make an appointment, call 518-897-APPT. There will also be some slots allocated each day for walk-in patients, Ged said.
The opening of the new health center comes as Adirondack Health considers a controversial proposal to convert the emergency room at its Lake Placid hospital to an urgent care center. It's hosted two general public meetings in Lake Placid as well as others with specific local groups, such as one at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Community Lunch Program at Adirondack Community Church. A decision by the organization's board is expected at its May 30 meeting.
Riccio said the new Saranac Lake Health Center could also take pressure off the emergency room in Saranac Lake, although he denied claims by critics of the Lake Placid proposal that long waits there are common.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@