Community says Cornwall ER should stay open

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Cusack-McGuirk: “It’s how healthcare has changed …”

NEW WINDSOR – Officials of St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital Monday
evening explained why they must close down the emergency department at
the Cornwall campus. Area public officials and residents argued at a public
forum that the facility must stay open to serve the community.
The hospital has logged $53 million in debt on their books since 2009, according to Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gibney.  Although the hospital has not gained any additional debt since that time, they have projected that they would need approximately $50 million to not, “run out of cash” by March 2017.
St. Luke’s Interim President Joan Cusack-McGuirk said it wasn’t a message anyone would have wanted to deliver, but it had to be done as soon as possible.
“Nobody really wants to deliver this message. It’s not a message that you feel good about delivering. Is it necessary, yes, and I’d be dishonest if I wasn’t as transparent,” she said. “It’s how healthcare has changed and this is predicated on the Affordable Care Act.”
Cusack-McGuirk added that the changing world of healthcare, due to the Affordable Care Act and a value based medical market, the hospital was forced to make even more changes because now the problem is bigger than St. Luke’s – their creditors and the state government are watching to make sure they make efficient changes.
The state’s role would be that in June of 2016, St. Luke’s Cornwall was given a $14 million grant, predicated on them having a, “believable,” five-year plan for sustainability. However, based on the hospital’s presentation, they feel closing the ER and restructuring to focus on robust outpatient services, an emergency department and trauma center, career services, cardiology, orthopedics, bariatric services, birthing center and NICU, will be the most viable option.

Democrat Skoufis, left, and Republican Larkin agree on this issue

State Senator William Larkin (R,C 39) called this issue personal; but, even with the $14 million of state help, he acknowledged that he and the community are not experts on the business of running a hospital.
“We just gave them $14 million on June,” said Larkin.  “Now, here we are, almost into August. Where’ve we been since then. I think that they really need to clean up their clock and see what’s going on because it’s not an easy travel; it’s not an easy road. It costs a lot to run a hospital; everybody isn’t an expert. Neither I, nor you, are an expert on what was going on; but, what we need to do is see what we need to do to stop the excess outsourcing of facilities in Cornwall.”
Despite Larkin’s frustration, he made it explicitly clear, in his remarks that he will “continue to support any effort to keep this emergency room going.”
Assemblyman James Skoufis (D 99) was a bit less sympathetic to the perspective of St. Luke’s but he is committed to the same effort as the senator and the local community who rely on the ER at Cornwall.
“I’m going to fight it. Many people here are going to fight it,” said Skoufis. “So, until those doors close, it’s not a done deal. We’re going to fight it and we’re exploring every avenue to do just that.”
Several county and municipal officials also told the hospital management they will fight to keep the Cornwall ER open for the community’s sake.