Amsterdam Health Center Brings Care To The Underserved

Mar 11, 2015

Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC

A new primary care center in Amsterdam aims to provide services to the city’s underserved populations. 

Experts agree that in many communities, simple access to health care can be one of the toughest challenges.

A ribbon cutting Wednesday morning at Hometown Health Center’s new Amsterdam facility was hailed as the beginning of a new era for the city’s health needs. Located on Division Street, the 5,000 square-foot facility occupies a building that had undergone an extensive $350,000 restoration.

Joe Gambino, President and CEO of Hometown Health Centers, said the company chose to locate in Amsterdam after surveying the city.

“We wanted to come into Amsterdam because we felt like we could meet that need from the people in the community. We serve children, adults, seniors. Anyone who needs access to care and perhaps could have some vulnerable situation in their life where they don’t have transportation or they don’t have insurance, whatever it is. They can come to Hometown and they can be seen by a primary care doctor.”

Since opening its doors in October, the new facility is the only federally qualified not-for-profit healthcare center in Montgomery County.

Dr. David Skory, Hometown’s Medical Director, describes some of the services the center provides.

“Children, one of our fortes, women’s services, which includes some early obstetrical care, and we actually specialize in taking care of young adults. And that’s in general what’s living around us.”

The center, located downtown close to senior and affordable housing, will also connect customers to specialized services through a partnership with St. Mary’s hospital, also in Amsterdam. 

Again, Joe Gambino.

“There are people again who have transportation issues, there are people who aren’t even aware of where the hospital is. So if we’re available in the community, we can provide them those services, and then if they need the hospital, we can get them to the hospital for those more significant issues.”

Hometown refers patients to St. Mary’s for diagnostic laboratory, x-ray, cancer screening, mental health services, substance abuse, specialty services and occupational therapy.

Congressman Paul Tonko, familiar with the Schenectady County-based company for years, was happy to welcome a team to Montgomery County.

The Amsterdam Democrat said the new facility carries out goals set by the Affordable Care Act.

“When the Affordable Care Act was being structured, it was deemed necessary to have federally qualified health centers as part of the connecter pieces. And this is all about making access more available. And through that, I think, you have a wiser investment in public and private funds in our nation’s healthcare.”

According to Gambino, the center currently sees around 2,000 unique patients, with hopes of expanding. In addition to a nurse-practitioner, six full-time bilingual staff members are on hand. The company eventually aims to support 20 full-time jobs at the facility.

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane remarked on the partnership between the company and the federal healthcare system.

“The healthy relationship that has been established between the healthcare system and Hometown here is such a great example for us that are working to cross borders and share services for our constituents."

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said the county is also looking to provide better and more efficient services across the county, which includes the urban center of Amsterdam, as well as numerous smaller communities and rural areas.

“I’m looking forward to another ribbon cutting, that Joe, hopefully you can come to in a couple months, when we’re opening up a satellite office for our social services department in Amsterdam so we can better meet the need and provide those services where the people are that need those services.”

Hometown also offers dental services at a Schenectady facility.