LOWVILLE- County and hospital officials were recently alarmed to the fact that Lewis County General may lose their critical access designation, a matter that would significantly impact long-term hospital funding, if indeed made permanent.
This concerning news, according to CEO Gerald Cayer, all revolves around a simple change of what defines a secondary road. "The change in how the road (Route 26) is designated is the crux of this issue right now," he said. "There's a re-certification process on a defined timeline. Lewis County's re-certification for the critical access program is going to be in June of 2020."
18 New York hospitals have a critical access designation and there are currently 9 at risk of losing that, due to the change in definitions. LCGH received their critical access title in 2014. In order to achieve critical access, a hospital must meet the following criteria:
-Provide 24-hour emergency care seven-days a week.
-Be located no less than 15 miles from any other hospitals via secondary road or 35 miles via primary road.
-Have 25 or less inpatient beds.
-Have an average annual inpatient length of stay of 96 hours or less.
The hospital barely qualifies in terms of distance, with Carthage Area Hospital being 15.6 miles away on what was a secondary road. However, this change of regulation now would establish Route 26 as a primary road, meaning Lewis County General would lose that status.
If the hospital loses its designation, nearly $5 million in annual funding would be lost, according to Mr. Cayer.
With only four months remaining until their re-certification us due, LCGH will be working with officials at the county level and other critical access hospitals to hopefully resolve the issue.
For more details on this story, be sure to catch our latest interview with CEO Cayer by listening here: