Health care summit addresses alarming loss of physicians

Those living in the Adirondack Park are facing an alarming scenario; doctors and nurses are leaving the area for better paying jobs, leaving residents without adequate health care resources.

Dr. John Rugge, CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network, got together with local and state officials and put together a forum last week at the Warren County Municipal Center to address the issue.

We health care providers in the Adirondacks are seeing an erosion of our ability to attract and keep providers, Rugge said. Weve spent a lot of time talking to HMOs, state government and insurance providers, and we still came up short. It will take a community action to call upon the authorities to help us.

Stephen Acquario, executive director of the state Association of Counties, addressed what he called the largest gathering he knew of that had representatives of all walks of life to focus on primary care.

We have a letter to Gov. Eliot Spitzer, calling on him to use his influence to provide immediate assistance, Acquario said. The letter, which was signed by those present, calls on Spitzer to commit emergency funding to protect essential community providers in the Adirondacks from fiscal collapse, convene both pubic authorities and private carriers to assure that all payers contribute their fair share to rescue and continue support of essential services and establish an Adirondack Healthcare Demonstration Project to test nd validate reforms that are needed statewide.

Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward pointed to the uniqueness of Adirondackers.

The people of the Adirondacks are unique in that they do things with grass roots efforts, Sayward said. We need to carry this message to Albany and to Washington. She said that more than half of the people in the Adirondacks are under or publicly insured and the existing facilities in the park are not properly reimbursed by insurance companies.

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