Adirondack Health’s health improving

In October 2022, we wrote an open letter to the communities we serve, letting everyone know Adirondack Health was in a tough spot as a local, independent health system. Since then, we have made some key operational changes and wanted to provide another update.

In the intervening 14 months, we have done some big, complicated things as an organization. We feel safe saying 2023 was a much better year, financially, than 2022. On the heels of a more than $14 million operating loss, we set out to make Adirondack Health more sustainable, while improving access to care. We were largely successful in achieving our goals.

We pursued new and enhanced partnerships — working closely with entities like Hudson Headwaters Health Network to facilitate expansion of their primary care services within our Adirondack Health buildings.

We made targeted investments — recruiting new physicians and advanced practice providers to strengthen existing service lines, including urology, cardiology, rheumatology, obstetrics, vascular care, and our hospitalist service (which is now fully staffed for the first time in several years).

We renegotiated fair and forward-looking contracts with both our New York State Nurses Association and United Food and Commercial Workers colleagues — bolstering our recruitment and retention prospects.

We reassessed if, where and how we should offer certain services, with a constant eye to mission versus margin and a commitment to following the data. This meant closing the part-time Lake Placid emergency department and our dental practice and selling Mercy Living Center to a private operator.

I recognize that not everyone will agree with every decision. Still, we accomplished what we set out to do, and that ability to execute bodes well for our organizational sustainability. We’re not only still here, but we’re also quantitatively and qualitatively stronger than we were 14 months ago.

Adirondack Health is transforming for two main reasons: the health care industry is transforming and the clinical needs of the communities we serve are transforming. At the same time, we’re protecting and building upon the legacy of care established by those who came before us — that mix of bold vision, quiet excellence and genuine empathy that makes Adirondack Health so special.

We still have a lot of work to do. With approximately $1 billion in state funding being made available for health care capital improvements, we will tell our story and make the case to state leaders in Albany and New York City that investment in Adirondack Health is investment in North Country residents and visitors. Priorities include funding the Cornerstone Campaign to renovate and modernize patient rooms at Adirondack Medical Center and making substantial, necessary investments in our IT infrastructure.

While it is still a tenuous time for Adirondack Health, with certain key variables entirely out of our control, I have absolute confidence in this organization and its employees. The work our clinicians and staff do here — the work that has always been done here — helps shape the region’s collective future, and that matters — to our families, to our patients and to our communities.

Thank you for your continued support.

(Aaron Kramer is the president and CEO of Adirondack Health.)

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