It’s no secret that there remains a lot of room for improvement when it comes to health outcomes and access to healthcare in Sullivan County. It’s not an uncommon problem in rural areas. …
It’s no secret that there remains a lot of room for improvement when it comes to health outcomes and access to healthcare in Sullivan County. It’s not an uncommon problem in rural areas. At the same time, it’s hard to overstate the benefit and convenience for patients who receive treatment in the comfort of their own communities.
As reported in the Democrat on Tuesday, the State Department of Health recently rejected a proposal by Garnet Health Medical Center Catskills to temporarily close its Critical Care Unit (CCU). According to hospital administration, this year has seen a dramatic decline in patient volumes coupled with significant increases in expenses across the healthcare industry as a whole.
At Garnet Health, officials say that patient volume is down some 15 percent and, across their system, they are nearly $33 million behind budget for the first four months of the year.
Now in a large sense it’s good news that less people are so sick that they need to be hospitalized. It wasn’t so long ago during the COVID-19 pandemic that we were worried about having enough beds in hospitals to accommodate everyone who needed one.
But as patient volume decreases and the cost of everything else rises, hospital administrators are faced with tough decisions about how to balance budgets with the lifesaving services they offer. When plans to temporarily shut down the CCU were announced, hospital staff and local officials were understandably concerned, holding rallies in Monticello and debating the repercussions in the County Legislature. As it is, even small changes can have big impacts in a community with poor health rankings.
We have very dedicated nurses, as well as representatives with backgrounds in healthcare such as Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. When they speak up for healthcare workers and patients, the State Dept. of Health listens.
We recognize that while our health system provides a wide range of critical services, it’s also critical that they are financially solvent in order to continue the work they do throughout the county for years to come.
The CCU will remain open, but the hospital system’s financial difficulties remain. Elected representatives, hospital administrators and state health officials must all work together to ensure the highest level of patient care while recognizing the financial realities that could, if left unchecked, eventually put the entire system at risk.
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