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ECH moving into Wilmington

WILMINGTON The Elizabethtown Community Hospital is taking over the Wilmington Health Center, offering five days of service a week. ECH Administrator Rod Boula said the hospital has filed a certificate of need with the state to begin operations in June. Boula said the site would help ECH serve its Wilmington and Jay-based patients. We've been seeing a large number of patients from that area here, in our health clinic. The travel for those folks to come here is great- it will be easier for them to get their services at home, said Boula. Boula said ECH would remain open five days a week, with five staff members include a doctor and physicians assistant. Hours of operation have yet to be determined. ECH officials were approached by the town of Wilmington to offer services. Boula said the numbers made sense for ECH to establish the The move surprised current providers Adirondack Medical Center, based in Saranac Lake. Currently AMC offers two days of clinic hours in Wilmington. In 2006, the site had 1,246 patient visits. Riccio said that there had been discussions between AMC and ECH to operate the center jointly. We had been in discussions with ECH to operate the Wilmington Health Center on a joint basis so we could expand services - we thought that was going forward, but midsummer but officials from ECH approached Wilmington Town Board and did it on all their own. It came as a complete surprise, said Riccio. Riccio said AMC found out about the move via press account. Previously we thought we had a collegial relationship with the others facilities - Elizabethtown chose a different route, that's the way things are going to be. Well have to go separate ways on this one, said AMC spokesman Riccio. Riccio said AMC sent out a letter in November to current patients in November, informing them of the change and inviting them to continue their relationship with AMC at the Lake Placid Clinic. "We plan to be there until June - if Elizabethtown is able to take over prior to that, we have no problem conceding to the operation," said Riccio. Obviously, we remain committed to those patients and we look forward to serving them in 2008. The space at the Wilmington Health Center is owned by the town, and leased by health care providers. Wilmington town supervisor Randy Preston, who took office on Jan. 1, said he welcomed the expanded hours ECH would be providing, but wondered if AMC had been treated fairly by town officials. In the overall best interests of the town of Wilmington, it's probably the best way to go. I'm just a little uneasy how it all came about, said Preston.

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