It’s time for some good news, right? So here’s some, in the health care area.
First, at Fort drum, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded an $8.9 million contract to design and build a new Soldier Family Care Clinic on the post. According to a press release from the Corps of Engineers, the clinic will take about two years to build, and is scheduled (although remember, this is construction) to be complete in summer of 2015.
The clinic, whose building must be certified at least LEED silver by US Green Buildings Council standards (oh, these are confusing), is not surprisingly intended to provide health care to servicemen and -women, and their families.
In Gouverneur, the Watertown Daily Times is reporting that the troubled (and briefly closed) E.J. Noble Hospital is getting a fresh start, with a new board, a new administrator, some new funding and “the start of a new vision of how to provide health care in Gouveneur.” More here on funding for the hospital from the state Health Department.
What’s actually happening is fairly complex; there’s lots of detail in the story. E.J. Noble was shut down in September of last year, when the state Health Department said its laboratory posed an imminent risk to patient health and safety. It was able to reopen in late October, although its blood bank remained closed at that time.
As well as the other changes it’s making, the hospital, which has struggled financially since before the closure, will seek to gain critical-access status under Medicare. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a critical-access hospital is intended to provide more routine care for patients, while referring those with serious and acute conditions (who might need longer hospital stays) to larger hospitals. Generally this would be a rural designation.
This would enable the hospital to get increased Medicare reimbursements; and would mean it can’t have more than 25 beds. The hospital currently has 37 beds, but hospital officials say it rarely has as many as 25 patients. E.J. Noble is currently categorized as an “acute care” hospital; the only other critical access hospital in St. Lawrence County is Clifton-Fine Hospital in Star Lake.
The hospital may also add a primary clinic; it’s still working to figure out staffing.