Bigger & Better

What’s up at local hospitals? Lots of construction and plenty of new services for the ailing and the healthy.

Hospital Update:

Bigger and Better

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Once, Valley residents had to travel to New York City to obtain top-notch health care. No longer. Now, our own region is a medical marvel, with local hospitals forging national reputations. Here¡¯s a look at some of the newest services and cutting-edge techniques available right here at home  

 

by Rita Ross

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MID-VALLEY

In January, Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis, Orange County, introduced vascular services. Peripheral Vascular Specialist Dr. Michael Innerfield ¡ª himself new to the hospital ¡ª utilizes minimally invasive techniques (such as stents) to restore circulation to areas affected by poor circulation. Some $1.2 million was spent to equip and renovate the space where the procedures are performed. Last July, the hospital also was awarded a three-year term of accreditation in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by the American College of Radiology. An acknowledgement of high practice standards, the accreditation came after a rigorous peer-review evaluation by board-certified experts.

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In a shared project with Kingston Hospital, Benedictine Hospital in Kingston last year opened a Cardiac Catheterization Lab to provide heart-related diagnostic and treatment services to residents of rural Ulster County. Benedictine has also been named a Community Cancer Hospital, one of a handful designated by the American College of Surgeons¡¯ Commission on Cancer. Set to open this fall is the Cancer Center at Benedictine Hospital, an outpatient treatment facility with more than $3 million in state-of-the art equipment. The region¡¯s only Hospice and Palliative Care Unit opens at the hospital next month, while in 2006, renovations will begin on a building to house Benedictine¡¯s Oncology Support Program, which offers complementary therapies. The hospital has also launched Paths to Wellness, a series of health-related lectures aimed at local residents.

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Last spring, Kingston Hospital opened a Wound Healing Center in its Emergency Department Express. It specializes in treating chronic non-healing wounds, including diabetic and pressure ulcers, as well as traumatic wounds. Plans are in the works to add hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments to the center in the near future.

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Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck is enhancing and expanding nearly every clinical area, including its Center for Orthopedic and Rehabilitative Care; the Diagnostic Imaging Department; and several key patient and visitor areas. The hospital¡¯s Center for Emergency Medicine will relocate to a 53,000-square-foot building with a state-of-the-art trauma/treatment/ observation suite, bedside registration, a pediatric treatment room, and an orthopedic injury room. New features include an inviting patient/visitor waiting area, a private physician consultation room, and a centralized triage station, all designed to accommodate new technology and create efficient patient flow. The relocation will permit easier access to critical diagnostic services such as the laboratory and medical imaging departments.

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Last summer, Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown and Goshen launched the Healthy Heart Program, a free mobile service that travels throughout the region to assess under-insured local patients with cardiac risk and educate them about heart-healthy lifestyles. At its Middletown campus, ORMC recently opened the Bone and Joint Center, while at the Tucker Center for Cancer Care in Goshen it launched a new Infusion Therapy Center. ORMC also celebrated the first anniversary of its Peter Frommer M.D. Heart Center and Cardiac Catheterization Lab, which offers high-tech procedures to diagnose and treat heart disease. Throughout the hospital, new speech recognition software (which translates physicians¡¯ spoken words into computerized data) has reduced the turnaround time for medical reports by as much as 75 percent.

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Saint Anthony Community Hospital in Warwick, Orange County, has two new neighbors on its campus: the Schervier Pavilion Health Care Facility and Mount Alverno Center. The former is a 120-bed skilled nursing home and rehabilitation facility; it runs Day-At-A-Time, an adult day health-care program. Mount Alverno is an 85-bed adult home that includes a fully licensed, assisted-living program. Saint Anthony also recently opened a new Women¡¯s Imaging Center whose Senographe 2000DS Full Field Digital Mammography System renders images on a computer screen within 10 seconds.

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Recipient of New York¡¯s 2005 Patient Safety Award, Saint Francis Hospital and Health Centers continues to expand. With the addition of Professional Radiation Oncology Services (PROS) to its Poughkeepsie campus, St. Francis¡¯s Cancer Center now provides a continuum of care ¡ª from state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical services to advanced radiation treatment. Meanwhile, the hospital¡¯s new Orthopedic Center, featuring the region¡¯s only fully dedicated Joint Replacement Center, allows patients to take advantage of the latest surgical techniques with its computer-assisted navigation system.

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St. Luke¡¯s Cornwall Hospital, with centers in Newburgh and Cornwall, Orange County, opened its Cardiac Catheterization Lab in Newburgh last February, and it¡¯s already going great guns. ¡°We¡¯ve done double the anticipated amount of catheterizations we projected,¡± says Kristen Jensen, the hospital¡¯s director of marketing and public affairs. As a result, the hospital is already considering expanding to a second lab and seeking approval to perform primary angioplasties. Also in the works at the Newburgh site is a five-story, 540-spot parking garage whose top deck will sport a helipad. Airlifted patients will be transferred  via a skyway to the hospital¡¯s emergency room, which underwent an $11 million expansion and renovation last year. Ground has been broken in Cornwall on a new medical office building and same-day surgery center, which should open next fall. ¡°We have also expanded the Pain Management Program and introduced a Wound Care Program there,¡± says Jensen.

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Recently listed in Consumers Digest as one of 50 exceptional U.S. hospitals, Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie has received approval from the state Department of Health to add beds ¡ª an extremely rare occurrence. Consistently full to capacity for the past year, the hospital is now in the process of completing two new floors that will accommodate 50 beds. It¡¯s also the first hospital in the Hudson Valley ¡ª and one of only a handful in New York ¡ª to implement a medication bar-coding system. Part of a hospital-wide effort to ensure safety, each patient will receive a bar-coded wristband when admitted. Before administering drugs, a nurse will scan both the wristband and the bar code on the medication to make sure they match.

 

UPPER VALLEY

At Albany Medical Center ¡ª where admissions have increased by 8.4 percent over the past two years ¡ª ground has been broken on a $13 million project to accommodate more hospital beds. This is on top of the facility¡¯s new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Pediatric Catheterization Lab (as well as a new Emergency Care Center and more than 17,000 square feet of research space). AMC also recently announced plans for a 126-room hotel, to be constructed on hospital grounds. The Hilton Garden Inn at Albany Medical Center will provide a comfortable and convenient haven for visiting patients, families, professors, physicians, and prospective students.

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Northeast Health network, which includes Albany Memorial Hospital and Samaritan Hospital in Troy, was recently named one of the ¡°Top 100 Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems¡± by Hospital and Health Networks, the journal of the American Hospital Association. The emergency rooms at both hospitals now use Computerized Physician Order Entry, which improves ER patient care by automatically flagging possible drug interactions and offering allergy alerts and proper do­sage information. Albany Memorial opened a Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine last fall. It provides comprehensive treatment for chronic, non-healing wounds and has the Capital Region¡¯s only hyperbaric oxygen therapy facility.

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Last year, Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson began construction on an $18 million building project that is expected to open in February. It includes a three-story outpatient services building that will house medical imaging studios, lab services, and physician offices. ¡°We are especially excited about having a new MRI on campus,¡± says CEO Jane Ehrlich. ¡°A new CT scanner will also be installed. This will be a 40-slice unit with the ability to provide advanced cardiac imaging, so that more invasive measures will not have to be undertaken to diagnose heart health. This new unit will not only be faster, but more comfortable for patients.¡± Forty new physicians have also been brought on staff. Their specialties include pain management, anesthesia, vascular surgery, internal medicine, and emergency services.

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St. Mary¡¯s Hospital in Troy recently updated its Ambulatory Surgery suite. The department now has state-of-the-art equipment to perform cryosurgery, laser cosmetic surgery, liposuction, lithotripsy (sound wave treatment for kidney stones), and prostate therapy. It can also implant InterStim (a device placed in the bladder to control incontinence). Women can take advantage of Novasure, a procedure that utilizes radio-frequency sound waves to control excessive menstrual bleeding. To meet the needs of patients who require physical therapy, the hospital has opened a location in East Greenbush (also in Rensselaer County), as well as specialized Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation Centers in Troy and Clifton Park, Saratoga County.

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This fall, St. Peter¡¯s Hospital in Albany became the first medical center in the Capital Region to offer MammoSite, which utilizes precise, less-invasive radiation to treat early-stage breast cancer. The hospital¡¯s Complementary Therapy Program, the oldest in the Capital Region, has received $30,000 in grants to offer massage therapy to approximately 200 patients with long-term medical conditions hospitalized in the oncology, cardiology, pulmonary, and stroke units, as well as some patients with Lou Gehrig¡¯s disease who are treated in the St. Peter¡¯s ALS Center.

 

LOWER VALLEY

Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, Rockland County, recently won state approval to begin a comprehensive adult cardiac surgery program. When it starts performing open-heart surgery and other procedures (including elective angioplasty) as early as next year, it will be the only hospital on the west side of the Hudson between the New Jersey border and Albany offering such extensive cardiac care. It is now the only hospital within that 130-mile region offering life-saving emergency angioplasty for heart attack patients.

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Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt Manor, Westchester Coun­ty, recently purchased a Second Look computer-aided system designed to assist radiologists in the early detection of breast cancer during routine mammography exams. With the help of a $500,000 grant, the hospital is working to create a no-wait Emergency Department; initial steps include providing computerized registration at patients¡¯ bedsides. In addition, new nurse-triage rooms, treatment rooms, a comfortable reception area, and a separate entrance for the special decontamination room (to handle patients who must be isolated during ER treatment) have all been added.

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Approved by the FDA in November 2004, artificial lumbar disc replacement is now available at Lawrence Hospital Center in Bronxville, Westchester County. Performed in European hospitals for more than 17 years with successful results and an infection rate of less than one percent, the new procedure is a possible replacement for traditional spinal fusion surgery. ¡°It is very promising for the reduction of back pain and restoration of mobility,¡± says Dr. Thomas Lansen, the hospital¡¯s chief of neurosurgery. ¡°We are excited that Lawrence is among the hospitals to begin implementing usage of the new device.¡±

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This spring, Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco opened its Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center. The $10 million facility offers the latest generation of noninvasive and minimally invasive approaches to diagnosing and treating cancer in a soothing, comfortable environment. Com­plementary therapies are also available. Elsewhere, the hospital has opened a new Balance Center (which treats patients with conditions such as vertigo and dizziness) and now offers a high-tech form of ¡°bloodless¡± brain surgery that uses highly focused beams of radiation instead of a scalpel.

This summer, doctors at the hospital began performing a nonsurgical treatment known as uterine artery embolization (UAE) to treat uterine fibroids in women. The new pro­cedure can be an alternative to
hysterectomy.

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Rockland County¡¯s Nyack Hospital recently completed a $1.7 million renovation of its Maternity Center, where more than 2,000 babies are born each year. It features hardwood floors and carpeting, stylish upholstery and wall coverings, built-in cabinets, new beds and other furniture, as well as attractive artwork and soothing lighting.

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This fall, the Radiology Department at Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel added a Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS), making it possible for physicians to access patients¡¯ exam images and reports instantaneously from their offices and homes. The county¡¯s only acute care hospital, PHC has also completed a three-phase facilities improvement project, including a new birthing center, ambulatory surgery/outpatient services facility, and emergency department building. Under construction is a five-story patient building that will provide enhanced oncology and cardiology services, private patient rooms, and additional physicians¡¯ offices.

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Riverside Health Care Systems includes St. John¡¯s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers and Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry (also in Westchester). St. John¡¯s recently opened a new Endoscopy Suite and has added new digital radiology equipment and an advanced CT scanner. Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Avon Foundation, it will continue its Breast Cancer Patient Navigator Program, which assigns patients a representative who can help them make appointments, obtain medical records, and provide emotional support. Community Hospital has opened a new Mammography Suite, CT Scan, and Ultrasound Suites. The facility also added cardiac equipment and has renovated its Emergency Department.

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If activity is a measure of a hospital¡¯s success, White Plains Hospital is very successful: it has the county¡¯s busiest emergency room (serving nearly 48,000 patients annually); and its staff delivers more babies; performs more joint replacement surgeries; and does more breast, colon, and prostate cancer surgeries than any other hospital in the lower Hudson Valley. On top of that, it was recently named a designated stroke center ¡ª Westchester County¡¯s first and only hospital to receive this endorsement from the state Department of Health. The centers are staffed with qualified teams that care for stroke patients throughout treatment and recovery. The teams are trained to identify the signs of stroke quickly, perform tests to confirm the diagnosis, and start treatment with clot-busting drugs to lessen the effects. ¡ö

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