The hospital plans to purchase the community health center, based in Willsboro, pending state approval. State approval is expected by spring of 2012.
According to Smith House Board Chair Dr. H. Nicholas Muller, the agreement represents a tremendous amount of trust, integrity and cooperation by both organizations to structure the purchase, not only to best benefit each organization, but to ensure that quality services are continued for community members. “We sincerely appreciate the hard work of ECH staff who have assisted with this transition. It has been a pleasure to work out this agreement between our facilities.” Dr. Muller continued, “My friends and neighbors in Willsboro, Essex, and adjacent communities will continue to enjoy the same excellent level of medical service.”
H. Nicholas Muller(left) Chairman of the Smith House and Rod Boula (rt) of Elizabethtown Community Hospital.
According to Hospital CEO Rod Boula, the purchase of Smith House by ECH is the natural progression of the long-term relationship between the two facilities. “Our two organizations have had a congenial relationship for many years,” he said. “Our medical staff has worked together in the past, ECH provides care to Smith House patients and we currently have an administrative agreement in place. Our organizations operate with the same basic mission: providing healthcare to the Essex County area. This purchase agreement further solidifies that relationship, making it official.”
Dr. Rob DeMuro, ECH medical director, explained that patients won’t notice a disruption in care, and may actually notice some enhanced services. “We expect a very smooth transition,” he said. “Patients will ultimately benefit from the enhanced ability of Smith House and Elizabethtown Community Hospital to coordinate quality patient care. Patients will have easy access to all hospital services including radiology, lab, physical therapy, cardiac rehab and chemotherapy.”
Patients at Smith House will benefit from the hospitals electronic medical record technology, fiber optic connectivity and telemedicine capabilities. The staff at Smith House will ultimately be employed by the hospital, and ECH medical staff will oversee patient care.
The hospital owns a network of community-based health centers throughout Essex County, believing that it is vitally important to offer healthcare services to residents of, and visitors to, the Essex County region. “In many cases, Smith House patients are also ECH patients,” said Jane Hooper, director of community relations at ECH. “We want people throughout the region to receive quality healthcare close to their home communities; we also want to promote continuity of care for patients among the community-based health centers and the main hospital facility.”
The hospital has been providing medical directorship to Smith House, along with administrative services such as medical coding, billing, payroll, technology infrastructure, purchasing, maintenance and housekeeping since October 2010.