Most Northern New Yorkers don’t give much thought about the fact that when they need to go to the Emergency Department or visit a friend at Canton-Potsdam, Gouverneur, or Massena hospital, they are walking into a rural hospital. North Country residents simply know they are going to the local hospital.
Rural healthcare is an actual category among NY State institutions, and the three hospitals operated under the umbrella of St. Lawrence Health (SLH) are being recognized throughout November as being a strong backbone in Rural Health. Also of special note this month is that Patient Transport Week is being observed, and SLH is proud to be the owning organization of Seaway Valley Ambulance in Massena.
SLH Regional Director of Planning Albert Hanson pointed out rural hospitals are critical institutions for our regional communities.
“Our hospitals are where our neighbors come to receive high quality care without having to travel several hours to receive it,” he said. “Rural hospitals historically have had to care for a generally older population with multiple comorbidities, such as diabetes, cancer, and other diseases, which has made it imperative that we provide quality care, right here at home.”
For the Betterment of Or Communities
SLH’s hospitals have to be more agile and creative in their approach to offering excellent care and being a member of their communities.
To provide more advanced care to their patients, Canton-Potsdam Hospital (CPH) is in the middle of a multi-million dollar Regional Care Pavilion expansion project; Massena Hospital (MH) is preparing for the opening of a Wound Care Center; and Gouverneur Hospital (GH) is advancing with new equipment and technology.
SLH President Donna McGregor stated the Regional Care Pavilion is more than a construction project.
“It’s not only the bricks and mortar that go into a project like this, but it’s the soul of the community. This building will be around for generations, and what we are doing today is really laying the groundwork for health care in the future for the North Country,” she noted.
Part of being a good neighbor, means being involved. As individual hospitals or as a whole of SLH, donations are made to community efforts on an annual basis. Staff members can also be seen at local events where they have information tables set up and are always delighted to talk with those who stop by.
“A characteristic of a rural health hospital is having a connection between the staff and area residents,” Ms. McGregor said. “We take care of our community - our patients and staff - like they are family.”
SLH, its hospitals, and its affiliation with Rochester Regional Health make it a very unique organization.
“SLH is special due to its story. From its inception with CPH and GH, to adding MH in 2020, and our affiliation with Rochester Regional at the beginning of this year, SLH has a focus on ensuring community members will have access to healthcare in their own towns. SLH is committed to bringing skilled specialists to each of its hospitals for the benefit and convenience of their patients,” Mr. Hanson said.
“Our organization has developed into a true provider of choice in St. Lawrence County, and continues to look for new and better ways to deliver high quality healthcare, while also providing services that have never been available in the region,” he continued. “SLH has focused heavily on development of outpatient services over the last 10 years, which includes assuming the ownership of Seaway Valley Ambulance (SVA).”
SLH has made great strides in working with neighboring institutions, such as Clarkson University, to provide the opportunity to train and hire emergency management services personnel. Clarkson has established a nine-month Paramedic Program that has its students job-ready upon completion.
SLH Director of Emergency Medical Services Mark Deavers pointed out they are currently hiring drivers, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians.
“We complete approximately 40 transports between hospitals each week, but that is dependent upon the availability we have of personnel,” he said. “With more trained team members, we would be able to take on more transports, which would significantly reduce the wait time for patients who need to be moved to another hospital.”
The majority of SVA’s transports are within St. Lawrence County, yet many are also transferred to outlying hospitals in Rochester, Syracuse, or Vermont. As the entire North Country is facing a shortage of rescue squad personnel, SLH is taking steps to increase the availability of these trained professionals.
Learn more about St. Lawrence Health.
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