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Upstate Hospitals Forge New Partnership


Saratoga Hospital and Albany Medical Center announced this week an agreement that is intended to improve the quality of care through standardized protocols, easier transfer of patient information, and attracting doctors and other medical professionals.

Saratoga Hospital CEO Angelo Calbone said recruiting physicians can be a challenge for community hospitals.

“This kind of relationship is going to allow us to maybe bring parts of programs or parts of physician time into our community, give patients access to services they had to travel for in the past,” said Calbone.

Located about 40 miles apart, the two hospitals have worked together before. They came together in 2013 to create the Malta Med Emergent Care facility at Exit 12 on the Adirondack Northway.

In recent months, physicians from Albany Med have been assisting Saratoga Hospital with an integrated cardiology program. Again, Angelo Calbone.

“Our ability to really work closely together with both institutions making a commitment to do what we needed to do to have a successful program, was really being driven by the understanding and belief that we were going to become part of an affiliated system. While we didn’t have our system created last year when we started working on that, I would say that the interest and momentum really was created by the anticipation that we would be together here in 2017,” said Calbone.

Under the agreement, both hospitals will retain their own leadership teams and employees.

Albany Med has a similar partnership with Columbia Memorial Health in Hudson. 

Albany Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer James J. Barba said in a press release that the partnership “creates the opportunity for the rapid advancement of health care for residents of the capital region and beyond.  As our institutions join together in affiliation with Columbia Memorial Health, we are creating a regionally integrated, locally governed network to provide exceptionally high quality and comprehensive health care through the most expansive health care system in our region. “

When asked for a verbal comment, Albany Med referred all questions to Calbone.

Meantime, Saratoga Hospital is continuing to expand its physician workforce in the region.

Last year, an expansion project to build physician offices on the hospital’s main campus in Saratoga Springs failed. Two city councilors had recused themselves from voting on the project due to potential conflicts of interest. At the same time a protest petition was filed by neighbors. Therefore, a change to local zoning to accommodate the expansion hinged on a 4 out of 5 council vote. With the two recusals, the project flat-lined.

Calbone hopes to see the expansion project revived.

“So until we can get this project back up on its feet and hopefully implemented, our physicians will continue to be spread around the community. Which isn’t ideal, but at this point it’s really our only choice,” said Calbone.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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