Kingston hospital system likely to affiliate with Westchester Medical

David Scarpino

David Scarpino

So that’s what they’ve been up to recently.

HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley (HAHV), Ulster County’s multi-campus integrated healthcare system, says it is moving rapidly toward affiliation with Valhalla-based Westchester Medical Center, according to CEO David Scarpino. He said he hopes a relationship between the two healthcare systems can be consummated within the next three months.

Scarpino cautioned that the affiliation was not yet a done deal. “We’ve dated for six months,” the HAHV CEO said Tuesday morning, December 30. “Now we’re talking about engagement and marriage.”

HAHV chief strategy officer Josh Ratner said that the Kingston-based healthcare system had decided to combine its application under the state health department’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) into Westchester’s application. HAHV’s application, Ratner said, was not by itself large enough and didn’t meet certain state criteria.

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The state Department of Health (DOH) is expected to review the expanded Westchester proposal, offer suggestions, and assign a multi-million-dollar award to the applicant. The state is in control of the process. It will utilize formulae to assign its level of support, and take into consideration such factors as the effectiveness of the applications and their requests for associated capital costs.

The regional hospital picture is experiencing rapid changes. Westchester Medical Center recently added bankrupt St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie to its system. Last week it disclosed it was discussing a joint venture with the Catholic Bon Secours Charity Health System, which runs hospitals in Suffern, Port Jervis and Warwick. If negotiations are successful, Westchester would become the majority co-member of the Bon Secours Charity Health System.

An affiliation with HAHV is now on the table, too. “This is the movement we’re looking for,” said Scarpino. He applauded the direction of Westchester’s commitment. “They’re doing what the state wants,” he said.

 

One hospital and a ‘medical village’

The governance relationship is a delicate matter. Westchester will have to have “some level of control,” Scarpino acknowledged. But maintaining a degree of local control is important to HAHV. “How much control is local?” asked the local hospital CEO.

The HAHV board has a very clear overview of what it would like preserved, Scarpino said: a single Kingston hospital campus, the preservation of a broad healthcare delivery system, and the acquisition of specialist services. HAHV would like state support to consolidate in a single hospital facility, and if possible to create “a medical village,” with multiple uses, in the other former hospital. Primary care and behavioral health would be two significant elements.

“Who else want to be in this mix?” Scarpino asked rhetorically. “Who else is interested?” He mentioned locally discussed initiatives such as a Kingston health education corridor and a workforce development center within the medical village.

HAHV’s multi-campus healthcare system consists of Mary’s Ave Campus (formerly Benedictine Hospital), Broadway Campus (formerly The Kingston Hospital), Margaretville Hospital, a contiguous skilled nursing facility Mountainside Residential  Care Center, and Woodland Pond at New Paltz, a continuing-care retirement community.

Having engaged in exchanging visions and feeling a level of comfort with each other, HAHV and Westchester Medical are now ready to talk publicly about what they’re up to, and to listen to the feedback. It’s an important step.

The invitations have been sent out, but the marriage still isn’t certain.

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