"We're thinking that it might be a more cost-effective way to ensure a high quality of care for our veterans," Potter said, noting that administrators at Stratton will continue to make comparisons with contract proposals. "Our focus is making sure we're providing the best care possible."
A likely scenario if the staff model is chosen, Potter said, would be for the VA staff to split time between a clinic in the Elizabethtown area and another in the Saranac Lake area.
"The staff model also gives us that opportunity to provide services in both places," said Potter.
Specialist services for veterans would have to come from another facility, such as Stratton itself, but could be contracted to local medical centers like ECH.
Potter said that if a staff model is utilized, the VA would attempt to retain as much of the current staff as possible, including Dr. Herbert Savel, a part-time physician who has been highly praised by patients at the clinic.
"Hopefully Dr. Savel would stay on," said Potter.
While a clinic split between Elizabethtown and Saranac Lake could be possible using a contract model, Potter said the staff model would offer a better guarantee of coverage. For now, however, the clinic remains in place at ECH.
"We will continue to provide the care in Elizabethtown as we move forward with this process," Potter said. "When we get the perfect solution, that will dictate how we move forward."