AMC may be affected by proposed budget cuts

SARANAC LAKE - Although considered a major driver in the Tri-Lakes economy, Adirondack Medical Center is still feeling the pressure of Gov. David Paterson's proposed budget cuts for hospitals and nursing homes.

"Hospitals are key community institutions," said AMC communications manager Joe Riccio. "It's a place for people to go to get healthcare. It's also a place where we employ a lot of people; people within the community turn and buy goods and services with the payroll we provide."

According to a press release provided by AMC, in 2006 AMC generated an economic benefit of $96.6 million for the economy. Riccio predicted that number has grown since the data was last calculated.

However, due to the governor's proposed budget cuts, AMC, along with health care facilities across the state, are facing $3.5 billion in cuts.

Since the budget cuts are still being negotiated, Riccio said, "Until we have a budget that's agreed upon, we really aren't sure what the impact is going to be ... Everyone's going to have to share in those cuts, should they go forward."

According to the press release, AMC president and chief executive officer Chandler Ralph said, "We clearly understand the financial challenges being faced by the state and the nation. However, hospitals and nursing homes are part of the solution, and not the problem, when it comes to both the community's physical and financial health."

But there is a way to help.

Two Web sites have been set up in order for people to log on and make contact with their state lawmakers. By visiting www.helpyourhospital.org and www.helpyournursinghome.org, and typing in your zip code, a list of health care facilities in your area will come up with the estimated budget cuts set for each facility. According to these Web sites, AMC is looking at a $106,000 budget cut which could affect the 831-person workforce and the people who look to these services when in need.

Riccio believes that if people visit these Web sites, a change could be made.

"These are the people that could be affected by these cuts," he said. "[The Web site] allows you to send a letter to your elected official, state assemblyman or state senator, letting him know that you don't support the cuts, and the associated impact it would have on these heath care facilities."

Although Riccio doesn't have exact numbers for people who have visited the Web sites locally, across the state nearly 50,000 people have logged on.

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