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River Hospital, Samaritan say new state funding will aid operations

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A day after receiving millions in state funding, representatives from River Hospital, Alexandria Bay, and Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, said the money will greatly help their operations.

Ben Moore III, River Hospital’s chief executive officer, said the $1,444,695 his hospital received Monday will support the addition of full-time and per diem providers in its emergency department, an internist for inpatient operations and an additional family practice physician, among other improvements.

The hospital started moving forward with its hiring and improvement plans after applying to the state’s Vital Access/Safety Net Provider Program in March. The program supports health care services in areas with aging and lower-income populations.

“It makes it a welcome award for initiating these programs, and having these expenses covered is just fantastic,” Mr. Moore said.

The challenge, Mr. Moore said, is sustaining the expansions the funding will support into the future. He said the key to making that happen is adjusting to the Affordable Care Act, focusing on preventing mistakes and retaining patients.

“We have to be on our toes to make sure everyone is satisfied and people are having a very positive experience,” he said.

Samaritan Medical Center’s $6 million allocation will help cover the costs it incurred during its multiyear receivership of Mercy Care Center of Northern New York.

The change, according to Samaritan spokeswoman Krista A. Kittle, helped create a more long-term solution for care in the area, despite the hospital’s initial high costs.

“It was an investment that was worth making in the community, and this will help us restore that funding,” she said.

Ms. Kittle also said the funding will go toward developing long-term care services across the area, including those not specifically run by the hospital.

The allocations were announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday afternoon.

Mr. Moore spoke of the need for the federal government to push forward with a Medicaid waiver that could supply billions of dollars to hospitals across the state.

He said the change will support additional project applications for the local six-hospital effort that includes the two hospitals along with Carthage Area Hospital; Lewis County General Hospital, Lowville; Clifton-Fine Hospital, Star Lake, and Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg.

“We hope to make our collaboration much more solid and much more effective,” he said.

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