Photo by M. Lisa Monroe
MVHS’ Dr. Mike Attilio, CAP-21’s Robin Hill, and MVHS’ Brad Crysler.
By M. LISA MONROE
About 100 people showed up at a meeting to discuss healthcare services in Old Forge on Sept. 27. The meeting was hosted by the Town of Webb Property Owners Association and CAP-21. Bob McCoy of the WPOA opened the meeting and then turned it over to moderator Don Kelly who is the president of the Community Health and Wellness Fund.
Kelly explained the fund does not operate, or have anything to do with the running of the Health Center. The Community Health and Wellness Fund has provided support for the Health Center in various ways throughout the years, and plans to continue that support. He said that they had heard from concerned townspeople about the Health Center and were happy to moderate a meeting to give and get information.
In addition to Town of Webb Supervisor Robert Moore and all of the town board, Dave Berkstresser, Barbara Green, Kate Russell and Mike Ross; Executive Director of Physician Services at Mohawk Valley Health Systems Executive Brad Crysler, and the Vice President, Medical Group/Physician Practices Mike Attilio, of MVHS, were also in attendance. MVHS is the company that the town currently leases the Health Center to.
The town owns the building and equipment and leases it to MVHS. The town does not run the Health Center. MVHS runs the Health Center. The town’s lease with MVHS just details how the building will be rented, not with any healthcare related issues. The lease, which expires in 2028, does not say that there must be two doctors, or what hours the clinic has to be open.
Many of the issues brought up at the meeting are the same ones that have plagued the Health Center for years: lack of weekend coverage, not enough doctors, not enough appointments available, no specialists in town, would the town be better served by an urgent care center. These points were all written down and MVHS assured the group that they would look into the issues and would report back to the town board in the future.
Moore said that the conversation is one the town needs to continue to have.
“Health care is dynamic and we need to pay attention,” said Moore.
Attilio agreed that the exchange of information and concerns are a vital part of the process.
“Events like this are important to me. Unless we know about these issues we can’t fix them,” said Attilio.
Crysler said that MVHS wants to provide a high level of service to the community.
“We are invested in the community,” he said.
Recruiting doctors for the TOW has always been difficult according to Kelly.
“I looked over paperwork going back years, and it’s always been a crisis when we have a doctor retire or we lose a doctor,” Kelly said.
Recruiting rural doctors is a challenge for the entire MVHS. Attilio said that they never stop recruiting and encouraging doctors to come to Old Forge to practice, but most general practitioners do not want to come to such rural areas.
“They go to the big cities, then the smaller cities and then out to places like here,” he said.
Former town supervisor George Hiltebrant said that he was thankful MVHS was here.
“If MVHS had not come into the town, we might have lost our other doctor. They have done us a great service,” Hiltebrant said.