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Elder care a key issue

To the Editor

Our communities are experiencing a growing percentage of older residents who are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to health care decisions. As we all age, we will seek out a mix of traditional and new services to help support the lifestyle we choose. Recognizing this, the state is directing resources to identify and create the new services necessary to balance the segment of our health care system that has become overly reliant on providing elder care in an institutional setting.

Traditionally our region and others have turned to nursing home care for people who are perceived as no longer able to live on their own, or aren’t quite ready to go home after hospitalization following surgery or a major health event. The care provided in our nursing homes is second to none, however, as people remain healthier and live longer, the traditional nursing home is no longer viewed as the preferred setting.

Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah announced a $7.1 million grant award through the Vital Access/Safety Net Provider Program (VAP) to the Blue Line Group. The Blue Line Group is a partnership of the only four non-public, not-for-profit nursing homes in the 6-million acre Adirondack Park: Adirondack Tri-County in North Creek, Heritage Commons in Ticonderoga, Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake and Uihlein Living Center in Lake Placid. Eight months ago, The Blue Line Group embarked on a journey to serve as a convener of new ideas and partnerships that will address and resolve the well documented challenges threatening the viability of long term care services in our region.

In the short-term, the Vital Access Provider funds secured by Blue Line Group will help address the fiscal distress its nursing homes have endured following years of Medicaid reimbursements that fell short of the actual cost of care. By providing financial stability, Blue Line Group partners will be better positioned to proactively focus on long-term solutions by aligning business strategies and care coordination to meet the changing health care needs of our region.

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