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Opening nears at CPH extension

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POTSDAM — Construction on an extension to Canton-Potsdam Hospital’s campus at 49 Lawrence Ave. is nearing completion as the hospital prepares to open a one-stop health care shop.

The 20,000-square-foot, $5.5 million extension is slated to open its doors in October, later than the August opening originally planned.

The delays were a result of an aggressive initial timetable, rather than any particular problems with construction, according to hospital spokeswoman Rebecca J. Faber.

The building itself is nearly complete. The windows are installed and the roof is shingled. Workers have begun to install counters, cupboards and desks in reception areas and exam rooms.

A pass-through still has to be constructed to connect the building with the Lawrence Avenue campus.

The hospital envisions the new location as a “one-stop shop.” A nutritionist, a social worker, nurses and primary care physicians will all work out of the site.

“The new facility is really going to be a change to how medical care has been provided in the past. It’s a team concept,” Ms. Faber said.

In theory, these combined services and focus on preventive care should reduce the need for hospital stays and bring health care costs down, Ms. Faber said.

This matches an industrywide trend of trying to stop health problems before costly hospital stays become necessary.

“A lot of care is moving to outpatient services now,” Ms. Faber said.

The extension will have enough space for 10 practitioners. Three new physicians have been hired already. For now, existing staff will fill the remaining offices, although the hospital will hire additional nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

The hospital is constantly looking to hire doctors to fill the void of north country physicians.

“We’re continuing to recruit all the time to try to fill the shortage of primary care physicians in the area,” Ms. Faber said.

In addition to preventive trends, the facility will gather population data to measure health trends in the north country, to better target prevalent problems.

Construction of the extension hit several roadblocks early on. First, the hospital struggled to earn village Planning Board approval, after a disagreement about the proper way to handle stormwater drainage. Then, in May, part of the wood-frame roof collapsed under 40-mph winds.

Both of these obstacles caused only brief delays to construction.

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