Assemblymember Cahill Calls For Transparency Regarding Future of Health Care in the Region

Letter to CEO David Lundquist requests public meetings throughout the area served by HealthAlliance
May 25, 2012
Kingston – Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D- Ulster, Dutchess) released a letter to David Lundquist, CEO, HealthAlliance Inc., requesting a collaborative effort to convene public and open forums to discuss the future of the health care in our community. This letter was a result of the recent disclosure that HealthAlliance is considering the closure of one of its Kingston based hospitals.

“We have been here before and know the importance of having open and honest communication,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “The discussion about the important decisions regarding the future of health care in our community should not be made behind closed doors and without the consent of the people who will be directly affected.”

In 2006 and 2007, when faced with the same threat of limited access to care, Assemblymember Cahill played a vital role in conducting countless hours of hearings and meetings to solicit public input. The success of the merger was largely due to the participation of the community. The collaboration of HealthAlliance, local government and the area’s residents, combined with the $47.5 million secured from New York State, allowed the hospitals to continue providing the kind of quality care they were known for, while cutting costs by eliminating duplicative services and streamlining administrative functions.

“At critical times like this, it is even more important to assure that our community has an opportunity for a fair give and take with decision makers. I am looking forward to significant outreach and I hope we will do so in conjunction with HealthAlliance,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “I am optimistic that if we work together as we did the first time around, we can arrive at a solution that will improve health care and save and create new jobs in our community.”

A copy of the letter CEO David Lundquist is below.









May 23, 2012

David Lundquist, President and CEO
Health Alliance of the Hudson Valley, Inc.
Kingston Hospital
396 Broadway
Kingston, New York 12401

Dear Mr. Lundquist:

I write regarding recent developments concerning the future of health care in our community. Over the years, I have worked closely with you and your predecessors to advocate at the local, state and federal levels for assurance that our institutions receive the resources necessary to offer access to high quality health care to the people they serve. Your recent disclosure that HealthAlliance is considering the closure of one of our hospitals has uniformly resulted in grave concern.

Please accept this letter as my formal request to convene open and public meetings throughout the area served by HealthAlliance to completely discuss all aspects of the current situation and to fully participate in any and all future plans. I once again offer my services to coordinate and host these forums. If, however, you prefer to proceed without my participation, please be aware that I will likely do the same. It is important that we have open and honest discussions concerning the future of the organization in order to identify ways we can work together to maintain the viability of health care for area residents. In my view that can best be accomplished working together.

In 2006, communities across New York State faced the forced closure of longstanding hospitals and nursing homes. Here at home, we pulled together to advance our own solution. I worked closely with hospital leaders and members of the Commission to engage and involve the public in deliberations that ultimately resulted in the agreement to form HealthAlliance and its approval by the regulatory agencies and the Berger Commission.

Our successful collaboration, combined with the $47.5 million grant I helped secure from New York State, allowed the hospitals to continue providing the kind of quality care they were known for, while cutting costs by eliminating duplicative services and streamlining administrative functions. The merger, in theory, should have brought us closer to a coordinated health care delivery system with the potential to grow into a regional center for excellence. In turn, the institutions should have been braced for the economic challenges they ultimately faced.

I have already heard from many corners that the exclusion of the public from discussions thus far of restructuring the organization is disconcerting and frustrating. Many of these people are the same folks who were so crucial to the process that created HealthAlliance in the first place. I look forward to your immediate attention and reply. Working together we can fully engage our community in planning for the future of health care in Ulster County and the Hudson Valley Region.

Sincerely,
Kevin A. Cahill
Member of Assembly