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St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital To Expand Services

The Cornwall campus of St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital will enhance services in a community local leaders say was disillusioned in recent years. The Orange County hospital plans to begin what’s being called “open access primary care.”

After much controversy, St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital shut its emergency department in January. Emergency services and hospitalizations were consolidated at the Newburgh facility. Joan Cusack-McGuirk is president and CEO of St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital.

“We did promise that we would do great things on this campus and we will, and we will continue. So we’re here to announce today that we will be opening up the concept… we have the concept of open access primary care, and that will be right on the Cornwall campus proper,” Cusack-McGuirk says. “And we anticipate this to occur about a year from now we’ll be starting the project because there are a lot of things in play here.”

She says the hospital needs to obtain a certificate of need from the state and work out the buinsess plan, architectural design and financial details. St. Luke’s is a partner of Montefiore Health System, which she says is committed to carrying out the five-year plan that includes open access primary care. She says urgent and primary care are similar, but that the open access primary care model is more inclusive.

“An urgent care doctor is not a primary care doctor, and a primary care doctor is not an urgent care doctor,” says Cusack-McGuirk “They have different skill sets.”

Town of Cornwall Supervisor Richard Randazzo says closing the emergency department that had been open for more than 80 years was traumatic for the community, but that expanding services will instill confidence that SLCH is here to stay.

“This news is great news for the community, it really is, and for the hospital,” Randazzo says. “Hearing about all the expanded services that are going to be here, accessibility is really important today. We have an aging population, as we all know, and having services convenient means that people will more likely use them rather than having to travel long distances.”

Cusack-McGuirk says that in about six months, the former emergency department space will temporarily accommodate rehabilitation services — occupational and physical therapy, and expanded rehab service. St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital also has a partnership with Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, where Jeff Menkes is president and CEO.

“Our staff is already here. We basically are participating now in the oversight of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy,” Menkes says. “And we are looking forward to enhancing cardiac and pulmonary rehab right here on this campus.”

Democratic state Assemblyman James Skoufis says a $250,000 member item will go toward moving the rehab services to the temporary space and expanding them.

“This is a really long awaited day, I think, by the community. There’s been a lot of disillusionment, a lot of frustration over the years, predating Montifiore in terms of the trajectory of this campus. But, today, we turned that around,” Skoufis says. “In this announcement, we’re telling the community, for almost all waking hours during the day you will be able to walk through these doors, with or without an appointment, and see a doctor. That’s going to be a magnificent service.”

Especially, he says, with other services coming as well.

“We’ve been talking about this, myself and the hospital, the past nine months,” says Skoufis. “There’s been some pushing and prodding, but we’re here, and this is a new day for the Cornwall campus.”

Cusack-McGuirk says the redesign will affect about 150,000 square feet of the 300,000-square foot campus for the five-year plan. The St. Luke’s Cornwall campus currently offers pain management, physical therapy, cancer care and more.

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