We're committed to quality care

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To The Editor:
As the Board of Directors of HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, the parent company of Benedictine Hospital, Kingston Hospital, Margaretville Hospital, Mountainside Residential Care Center and Woodland Pond at New Paltz, we are volunteer community members who care deeply about the physical and economic health of our region. We have a responsibility to preserve and enhance the quality healthcare services that have evolved over the last 100 years in Kingston.
Our evolution has been driven by a variety of fast-paced regulatory, legal, economic and financial considerations.

In 2007, after many attempts and years of negotiations, Benedictine and Kingston Hospital agreed to compromise and come together, or risk, as the state’s Berger Commission put it, the certain closure of one or both entities. The separate hospital boards and executive teams at that time laid out a plan to consolidate and move services across the two hospitals. The HealthAlliance Board of Directors was formed in 2009 with equal representation from both hospitals and recruited a new chief executive officer to enact the agreed upon changes.

The plan was executed successfully and achieved $15 million in operating efficiencies in its first year. The two hospitals turned a profit, preserved their missions, avoided layoffs, made service enhancements and formed a unique affiliation of a Catholic and secular hospital.
Since then, reimbursements have consistently declined and more community members have become under or uninsured due to the economy. Market forces have led many procedures previously performed in hospitals to be performed in outpatient settings. Healthcare reform and enhanced technology will continue to reduce the length of hospital stays.

According to a report this week from Moody’s Investors Service, these factors are only expected to get worse for non-profit hospitals in the foreseeable future.
We share the community’s concern that our hospitals, once considered evergreen and immune to economic downturns, are being forced to make tough decisions. We understand that our employees at every level and their families are facing uncertainty. As the largest employer in Ulster County, we never forget our responsibility to deliver healthcare services and secure the current and future economic stability of the region.

HealthAlliance, as conceived over much of the last decade, must evolve to fit the current and future environment. Our executive team continues to have our support and collaboration as we develop a plan shaped by feedback from our physicians, community and elected and state officials. The process of completing a plan, receiving state approval and consolidating is expected to take a minimum of 18 months. As plans regarding a single-campus solution are finalized, every effort will be made to optimize services, minimize job losses and repurpose the remaining facility.

We remain committed to communicating details to our community, physicians and employees. We will continue to hold community and employee forums and have added a new section on our website called “Transformation Updates” to answer frequently asked questions and share information throughout this process.

We ask that you, as our neighbors, friends and family, stay local for your healthcare needs while we evolve and strengthen our services. The name on the building will likely change, but we will be here to provide quality care for our community into the future.

The HealthAlliance
of the Hudson Valley Board of Directors,
Kingston