Hospital CEO Speaks at Ulster Chamber Meeting

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June 29, 2016
The President of HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley was the guest speaker at the Annual Community Breakfast, hosted by the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce recently.

Earlier this year, HealthAlliance was awarded an $88,756,441 grant–the second-highest award in the state – to transform its Mary’s Avenue campus into a single, state-of-the art hospital and redevelop its Broadway campus into a medical village. On top of that, it became an affiliate of WMC Health in late March, paving the way for a comprehensive health network based in the Hudson Valley—one that is expected to draw specialty physicians to its facilities.

In his address to the Chamber, David Scarpino told business leaders that expansion plans will get the “economy really kicking,” pumping close to $240 million into the community over the next five years due, in part, to construction jobs and other employment related to the expansion. “That money will be spent locally. People will need hotels. People will eat. People will buy gas. There’s a lot of spending that will accrue as a result of this project,” he said.

Scarpino said HealthAlliance, with 1,900 employees on its payroll, is the largest employer in Ulster County and does business with about 400 local vendors, amounting to about $1.2 million annually. “We are a very strong economic engine in this community and want to continue to be,” he said.

Renovations, which will include a new emergency room and imaging and maternity departments at the Mary’s Avenue campus (formerly Benedictine Hospital) have not begun, but Scarpino anticipates breaking ground late next spring and completing the project in about two years.

One of the priorities, Scarpino said, will be the inclusion of private patient rooms. “We’ve got to be competitive with surrounding health-care facilities, and privacy is probably the No. 1 want and desire by our patients,” he said. “We do get patient satisfaction scores,  and often, our scores come back that it’s noisy because you have somebody next to you who’s very sick, and you’re only separated by a curtain, so as we move into this new building and have private rooms, it will look like the large medical centers in the area.”

Scarpino also emphasized how health care will change in the next few years. “We want to shrink ourselves” he said. “The state is saying there’s $275 million—the Westchester potential to give out to its collaborative partners if we accomplish certain metrics. So if we reduce our unnecessary emergency room visits and inpatient visits, we will get paid. We’re used to getting paid based on volume (and) will now get paid based on value. That’s so much better because it reduces the cost of health care in the community and keeps people heathier and improves quality of life,” he said.

Scarpino also noted, “If you’re trying to attract business to this community, you’re going to have a new hospital, a new school and you’re going to have a healthier community, and there’s nothing more attractive than that.” One of the ways HealthAlliance plans to do that is by proactively reducing incidents of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and poor lifestyle choices like smoking, things Scarpino said are prevalent in Ulster County. “This is our chance to drive those numbers down. It will be measured every single year, and if we’re not successful, we don’t get paid, so this is huge for us.”

Following his address at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Scarpino told reporters that his staff is doing what it can to keep those insured by BlueCross Blue Shield informed about their options. On June 1, a contract between the two entities expired, leaving BlueCross BlueShield members to seek non-emergency medical care elsewhere.

Scarpino called it a “contractual issue” and said he hopes it will be resolved soon. According to Scarpino, Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMC Health) and the insurance company made prior arrangements to have a negotiated rate for all affiliates that came into Westchester’s system by the end of March. He said as a result of HealthAlliance’s affiliation with WMC Health in March, which he called a “triggering event,” the rate should have kicked in. “All we’re asking is that Blue Cross honor that arrangement. It was a contractual agreement,” he said.

While the matter is being litigated, certain elective procedures won’t be covered at HealthAlliance facilities. Scarpino stressed that emergency services will not, however, be excluded. “If you need emergent care and you come into the emergency department, you are covered by Blue Cross. If you need to be admitted to the hospital as a result of that emergency room visit, you are covered by Blue Cross. If you’re in your second or third trimester and you need care, you can come to the hospital for delivery. If you need care that is ongoing like chemotherapy and dialysis, you are covered,” he said.
Ward Todd, President/CEO
(845) 338-5100