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State prescribes tough medicine

In response to the report's recommendation that the hospital's maternity, neonatal, eating disorders, and mobile outpatient education and screening services be added to another hospital, Saile said she doesn't feel that other area hospitals would be able to absorb all of the patients and provide to them the same level of expertise.

Bellevue is one of two remaining nonprofit women's specialty hospitals in the nation. It has 55 beds and its average daily census was 22 patients in 2004.

According to the commission, its chief service is low-risk obstetrics. Because it does not offer high-risk maternity care, medical surgical care or emergency services, the report said, closing the hospital won't affect the availability of high-tech services that are already directed to large facilities.

The report also called the hospital's financial situation dire and stated "its future viability is in serious jeopardy," citing substantial debt-load and negative net worth and losses in 2004 and 2005.

According to Saile, this depiction of the hospital's financial situation is incorrect.

"The report is not accurate; it's not based on actual facts," she said. "It mischaracterizes the debt that Bellevue is in."

Saile said, since the hospital became a nonprofit its debt has been reduced from $17 million to $12 million " in just five years.

"We're anything but in dire straits," she said.

The report listed the hospital's 2005 net deficit as $1.3 million, and its total deficit at the end of 2005 was $17.6 million.

A number of area politicians have stepped up in support of Bellevue.

"I am not pleased with this report," said Assembly leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady. "To suggest Bellevue Woman's Hospital should close and St. Clare's and Ellis Hospital should merge based solely on the population of Schenectady County ignores the fact that these outstanding facilities serve a broader population, including the fast-growing southern Saratoga County population."

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