Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn spoke with town of North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi on Thursday, March 27 at the LPN office on Mill Hill. Politi owns/operates the Merrill L. Thomas real estate company in Lake Placid.
(Editor's note: Part 1 of our conversation with North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi was printed in last week's issue of the Lake Placid News.)
LPN: On the town level, what's the biggest challenge for you?
Town of North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi poses with the historic Lake Placid News editorial board. (News photo — Andy Flynn)
SUPERVISOR: I think the biggest challenge that Lake Placid and North Elba face right now is probably the continuation of health care services. That's an extremely passionate issue with this community. It's the balance between what's best for the health of our residents and what's best for the financial stability of the hospital. I'm talking about AMC (Adirondack Medical Center, now called Adirondack Health) and the emergency room services. That's a real issue for the people of Lake Placid.
I have to look at what's best for Lake Placid. I look at it one way, but it may not necessarily be what's best for the board of directors of the hospital. My job is to consider and evaluate the interests of the people who live here and the people who visit here.
I hear all the time that other places have to travel a distance to go to hospitals and so forth, but Lake Placid is not like other places. Lake Placid is not just some town in rural America. That's not the case here. We are a town that caters to the world. We are a town that holds extremely important international events. We are a town that has an extreme visibility to the world in terms of who's here at any given time and what's going on here. And it just isn't the same in terms of the types of events we have. Most of the events are quite dangerous. So I think you just can't throw Lake Placid into a heading of every other little town.
I guess I'm most concerned about the logistics and the planning if, in fact, the hospital decides to go to a 12-hour coverage for the emergency room, which is certainly their choice. I'm just concerned that we're going to have enough ambulances, enough people, enough coverage and make sure that folks are protected.
This is a health care concern nationwide. It's not necessarily just Lake Placid, but it is that Lake Placid is not just anywhere else. That, to me, is the issue.
I think we have to have a different presence in medical care for this community because of what we have here in terms of events. Now I understand that the times of the events are during the day, and during those hours, for the most part, the emergency room would be open. At least we would have an opportunity to make sure that the emergency room hours would correspond with the events. But you also have a lot of people that visit this community, unlike any other place in Essex County, that are here all the time overnight. Ironman, the fact that they race during the day, doesn't necessarily mean that there might not be issues during the night. Do we have enough coverage? Those are issues I think the mayor and I are concerned about.
Unfortunately, there was no independent study done. The hospital formed a committee made up of some local people but primarily hospital people. Sometimes I question the pretense of having that type of committee. I would have much rather seen an independent study done to see how it affects this community.
How are we going to cover? Are there enough ambulance people? Are there enough ambulances? What happens if an ambulance gets called to Wilmington? Who's going to cover? What if something happens here, and our ambulances are in Wilmington? Is there another ambulance? Those are issues that I think require thought and planning. I just don't think, in my opinion, enough has been done in that regard.
I think it's a big move, and I think we all can accept it if we know all the facts. I understand that people don't like change. I see it every day. But change works when there's proper planning and communication. And I think that's where the breakdown has been between Lake Placid and AMC.
LPN: If money was not an obstacle, what's one thing you would do to benefit the town of North Elba the most?
SUPERVISOR: I would put the money aside in a reserve account to continue capital improvements and upkeep and maintenance of our existing Olympic venues, which the town owns. I think that's going to be an issue going forward. Lake Placid has to maintain its position in the athletic world and the Olympic world. We have a very important Olympic legacy, and we have facilities that need to continue to be maintained. It is our mission here. It's our niche. So much of our business is generated from the world-class events that we hold.
The other thing is we have other events in this community that are also very important: Ironman, Summit Lacrosse, Lake Placid Horse Show, all of the hockey events like CAN/AM Hockey and Canadian Hockey Enterprises. Why do those people want to come here? Why do they want to participate? Why do those sponsors want to come to Lake Placid? Why do the athletes want to come here? It's because of Lake Placid's name, Lake Placid's Olympic legacy and there would be no better place to achieve a medal in whatever you're doing than in Lake Placid. Lake Placid's it. That's all part of what we are selling here and the importance of maintaining these facilities and finding ways to make Lake Placid better.