Albany Med Health System strengthening their program in 2022 to provide better care

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COVID-19 has certainly strained the resources of hospitals across the state, but they’re still working to deliver quality care for patients dealing with other health issues.

Some area hospitals are coming together to bring that care to more rural areas. It’s a partnership called the Albany Med Health System. It first started over five years ago with Columbia Memorial Health.

The purpose of this partnership is to bring specialized medical care to rural communities, so someone does not have to travel so far to receive quality care.

"It is so much more convenient for them," Jay Cahalan said, president and CEO of Columbia Memorial. "It’s encouraging for them to seek care as well because some of that deterrence for care isn’t transportation issues. It may not be easy for someone who’s elderly to travel in the dead of winter."

The Albany Med Health System works with three different area hospitals: Columbia Memorial, Saratoga Hospital, and Glens Falls Hospital.

They offer 10 different integrated services: addiction medicine, breast surgery, cardiology, colorectal surgery, ENT surgery, obstetrics, orthopedic surgery, pathology, radiology, and vascular surgery.

Lisa Paterniti, a Greene County resident, has taken full advantage of the partnership. She can now get the same treatment at Columbia Memorial as she would in Albany.

In 2018, doctors found a tumor in her lung. She got the surgery done at Albany Med, but since then she gets all her checkups done much closer to home.

Her drive time is cut in half now that she goes to Columbia Memorial in Hudson.

Paterniti even sees the same doctors since she was first diagnosed, and they can share all the appropriate medical records.

Paterniti said it’s been an easy transition.

"That’s where all of my doctors are. They’re based out of there," she said. "Now that they’re all together with the same medical records and everything, it’s like my whole team is together and on the same page, and they can all see all my results all the time."

The heads of Albany Med Health System are working to improve it.

Dennis McKenna, president and CEO of the health system, said one thing that every patient expects when you go to the doctor is that all your information comes up and is available to any provider that’s caring for you.

That’s why they’re moving to one singular electronic medical record. It creates one common language.

Doctors and providers caring for patients have the information stored, and it’s immediately available.

"Right now, the information is passed back and forth, but we’re going to do it in a way that it’s going to be much more seamless going forward, and we’re going to lay it on a singular platform," McKenna said.

This means whichever hospital a person goes to within the Albany Med Health System, their information will be available to doctors at the same time. This is for both the inpatient and outpatient centers.

McKenna said this new part of the program will be launched in 2022. He expects to see the benefits of that within the next two years.