Assemblywoman Gunther Hosts Tour of District by Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson

At the invitation of Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D – Forestburgh), Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson toured Orange and Sullivan counties today to learn about various initiatives and to hear concerns of local officials. In July, Gunther hosted an economic development forum between Patrick Foye, Downstate Chairman of the New York State Empire State Development Corporation, and local business leaders.

“It is vitally important to keep the unique issues of the Hudson Valley in the forefront,” Gunther said. “Today’s visit by Lieutenant Governor Paterson provided a wonderful opportunity for local officials to bring attention to the needs of our region,” Gunther said. “Today’s meeting was very productive and I look forward to continuing this meaningful dialogue.”

The tour began in Middletown at the Thrall Library. The CEOs of Orange Regional, Catskill Regional and Bon Secours hospitals as well as the directors of other healthcare facilities met with the Lieutenant Governor and Assemblywoman Gunther to discuss concerns related to delivery of healthcare in the region. Afterward, representatives of Middletown and Orange County as well as community members were greeted by the Lieutenant Governor.

Anne Kauffman Nolon, President & CEO of Hudson River HealthCare said, “We are grateful for this opportunity to bring to the Lt. Governor’s attention the dire need that exists among minority communities for access to quality health care. Reimbursement methodologies that sustain community health centers are so important in underserved communities, where an extraordinary number of people are uninsured.”

“Middletown Thrall Library was honored to be able to host a meeting for Lt. Governor David Paterson, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, and regional health care officials, as well as a public meeting with constituents,” said library Director Kevin J. Gallagher. “Both the Lt. Governor and the Assemblywoman are strong proponents of New York State's public libraries. These meetings helped to demonstrate the role Middletown Thrall Library has as a community center, and as a focal point for the redevelopment of the downtown area.”

In the afternoon, Paterson was invited by Assemblywoman Gunther to visit the Center for Discovery in Sullivan County. At the Center, the Lieutenant Governor heard about the innovative programs for individuals with disabilities including their work with autism.

“All of us at The Center for Discovery were thrilled to have Lt. Governor Paterson stop by to visit us today. We were pleased to have the opportunity to share with him all that is happening here at The Center, including the excitement of the ongoing construction of our new campus for children with autism spectrum disorders scheduled to open in September, 2008; and our commitment and continuing efforts at employing sustainable “green” construction practices in all our facilities. We were also honored to have him meet us in our Discovery Health Center, a New York State Department of Health certified Article 28 Clinic, which was the first healthcare facility in the United States to be registered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC); and, in fact, The Discovery Health Center received the USGBC’s prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification,” said Patrick H. Dollard, CEO of The Center for Discovery.

“In addition, understanding Lt. Governor Paterson’s commitment to individuals with disabilities, we shared with him many of the innovative services and programs The Center offers to children and adults – including individuals with multiple disabilities and medical frailties, mild to profound mental retardation, autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, seizure disorders, blindness or visual impairments, severe physical disabilities, syndromes, some behavioral concerns, as well as both children and adults with serious medical needs. We do hope that Lt. Governor Paterson will be a regular visitor to The Center for Discovery,” Dollard said.

Later, he met officials from Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) to review the Green Tech Program and Green Tech Park, for which capital project support has been requested by Gunther. The project would train students in wind and solar power and other eco-friendly building practices in an effort to attract businesses and boost the local economy.

“Knowing how focused Lt. Governor Paterson is on green technology and renewable energy, I was happy to have the opportunity to share with him our innovative project involving the Green Technology Park and the CAST (Center for Advanced Sciences and Technology) Building that will be housed on the College campus,” said Dr. Mamie Howard-Golladay, President of Sullivan County Community College. “This project is the first of its kind in the state and will not only enhance the region’s economy but will allow us to offer several cutting-edge programs of study in sustainability.”

Finally, Paterson had the privilege of meeting with the Amputee Coalition of America to discuss a bill Gunther is sponsoring (A.1274/S.1672) to require insurance companies to provide coverage for prosthetics. The legislation was inspired by a local boy, Chase Molinari, who lost his leg during a battle with cancer as an infant. He was one of 200 amputees from around the state to travel to Albany this year to show support for the legislation.