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Three vie to fill healthcare gap

It's a medical arms race of sorts in Saratoga County, with three hospitals vying to put a satellite emergency department in the Clifton Park/Halfmoon area and Malta. Ellis Medicine and Seton Health have both submitted a certificate of need to the Department of Health for a free-standing emergency department in Clifton Park, and Saratoga Hospital submitted a certificate of need for a free-standing emergency department at Exit 12 in Malta, according to the DOHs public affairs group.

If approved and given the go-ahead, Ellis Medicine would be creating the first satellite emergency care center of its kind in the Capital District, and, according to Ellis Medicine CEO James Connolly, would improve access to emergency care and bring it closer to residents in southern Saratoga County. He said the full-service emergency department would be a 12-bed facility, open 24/7, staffed completely by Ellis emergency medicine experts and cost $3 million.

Clifton Park/Halfmoon is one of the most densely populated areas in the state without immediate emergency department access, and Ellis is the primary provider of care for that community, said Connolly, who stated that depending on traffic, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to travel to Ellis from that region. "We're not aware of any situation where a patient has died because of travel time, but we've met with the DOH, and what it's not giving credence to is that there's such thing as pain relief. If someone has a fractured leg or arm, that additional 15 minutes will be a painful ride. And there's also a degree of reassurance in the community that they don't have to go far for emergency care. Having to travel 15 minutes to get to a patient and then turning around to come back [to Ellis] can be disruptive."

Connolly emphasized that what Ellis Medicine has heard from residents in the area of Clifton Park/Halfmoon via surveys conducted through Siena College and at town meetings, is that there is a general desire for immediate access to emergency services because residents are concerned about receiving care if they were to have a heart attack at the mall or get seriously sick at home. He said Ellis is trying to address what the community communicates it needs and that it's up to the DOH to recognize the need.

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