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Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center: A Year in Review

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

2018 was a year of growth and building new relationships and strengthening current ones for Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center. We provided, partnered in, and supported many grassroots activities throughout the year that improved our ability to provide the best healthcare to the North Country. Claxton-Hepburn serves as an essential economic stimulus to the region by providing high-quality care and keeping our community healthy; we are one of the largest private employers in St. Lawrence County and our hospital’s jobs and spending make an enormous impact on the financial health of our community.

During 2018, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center expanded services, added healthcare providers, and worked with other community agencies to promote wellness and address health disparities in the community. A significant focus for expanding access to healthcare services was Claxton-Hepburn’s clinical affiliation with Crouse Hospital, along with River Hospital and Carthage Area Hospital. The affiliation allows each institution to strengthen patient services and share best practices and expertise. Through the affiliations, patients gain access to specialized care and physicians throughout the Central and Northern New York. Current developments are in telemedicine, quality assurance programs, group purchasing, and affiliate marketing. With the affiliation, patients can access specialized care and physicians from all partners, either in the hospital, physicians’ offices, or via advanced telemedicine. The partnership leads to quality, timely diagnosis, and treatment for our patients while eliminating barriers like travel, weather and time for patients in the North Country.

2018 marked the first anniversary of the addition of the da Vinci robot to our surgical services team. One hundred ninety-six of our surgical patients had their surgical procedure done using the da Vinci robot. Robotic surgery offers many benefits to patients compared to open surgery. It is an advanced form of minimally invasive or small incision surgery where surgeons use a computer-controlled robot to assist them in certain surgical procedures. The robotic and minimally invasive surgery results in smaller incisions resulting in less pain and scarring and quicker recovery for our patients.

Claxton-Hepburn has worked diligently to implant itself into the community through extensive grassroots efforts and partnerships and is building lasting relationships. Annually, we assist groups with fundraising and promotional awareness at their events, including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, Alzheimer’s Association, and local groups like the Gouverneur Breast Cancer Fund, Suicide Coalition, Volunteer Transportation Organization, Hope and Health Mission, and the Community Health Centers of the North Country. Through sponsorship and staff volunteering time, we were able to get out into our community and join with our patients to support their causes. From sponsoring and attending youth sporting events, our annual St. Lawrence River Dragon Boat Challenge, to a free bike helmet program, and our yearly 5K held each Fall, Claxton-Hepburn defenders are there, supporting our community.

We collaborate with over 40 regional health and human services agencies and County Public Health officials networking on behalf of our patients. We work closely together with these partners developing our community health assessment and comprehensive community health improvement plan that addresses healthcare gaps and needs in the communities we serve. You can find more information about this on our website at www.claxtonhepburn.org/aboutus.

Caring for our community is at the forefront of our commitment to provide quality care with dignity and respect to all individuals seeking care at any of our facilities, regardless of their ability to pay. Because of our relationships in the community, we receive grant funds from our partners to provide free health screenings. It is through these grant funds that Claxton-Hepburn provided four free colonoscopies, 11 free lung cancer screenings, and 9 $99 lung cancer screenings in 2018. We also provided 17 free hernia screenings, 25 free skin cancer screenings, and three free diabetes prevention programs where 53 participants that completed the 16-week-long program collectively lost 564 pounds.

Our physician recruitment team did a great job bringing in new providers in 2018. We welcomed primary care providers Alycia Short, PA-C, and Bailey Airoldi, PA-C, and we welcomed Dr. Aathi Thiyaga to Claxton Pain Management. In 2019, we will welcome Dr. Kaichun Wei to our OB/GYN team, Dr. Mayank Sharma to family medicine, Lindsey Hayes, FNP to GI services, Dr. Ricardo Lundi to podiatry, and Dr. Mary Lou Feilmeier to pediatrics. To our cardiology team, we will welcome Dr. Roman Pachulski and his wife, Mary Pachulski, RN.

Claxton-Hepburn has been at the forefront of the telemedicine movement in the North Country since 2016 when we began our Stroke Telemedicine program with Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. In 2018, we expanded our telemedicine program to include infectious disease consults with an independent physician, Dr. Avrille George from central New York. We plan to work with our partners to expand the telemedicine into other services in 2019.

The Medical Center has a long-established relationship with our Canadian friends dating back to over a decade. Recently, we have partnered with La Vie Executive Health Center, a private Canadian health care clinic in Ottawa, Ontario. Claxton-Hepburn offers La Vie’s clients timely access to specialists and services which they would have to wait more extended periods to receive in Canada. We look forward to expanding this relationship and building stronger ties with our Canadian friends.

Our Foundation team has had an exciting year kicking off several fundraising initiatives to enhance and expand services at Claxton-Hepburn. The Foundation’s Rekindle the Café campaign, an initiative to raise $350,000 to renovate the Medical Center’s Cornerstone Café, is going strong. The project has garnered $100,000 in support since its February 2018 launch from the employee and corporate sponsors. The public phase of the campaign will launch this spring. The Renal Renaissance campaign was launched in 2018 with a goal to raise $180,000, so the Dr. Ravinder N. Agarwal Renal Center can invest in more home dialysis machines, new nursing call system, patient power chairs, and energy efficient improvements throughout the building. At this time, almost $20,000 in support has been generated by the community.

In 2019, Claxton-Hepburn will hold its annual St. Lawrence River Dragon Boat Challenge at Waddington Beach on July 13, and the Medical Center’s Foundation team will be rolling out a new event, the Claxton-Hepburn Amazing Race, based on the TV show, The Amazing Race. Teams will compete for a cash prize of $1,500. Details of these events will be rolling out soon so stay connected with us on Facebook to learn more.

Claxton-Hepburn is aggressively recruiting new providers and will continue to work on expanding patient services, enhancing patient access, and improving the patient experience. Being a part of our family means you will always have our team working hard to keep you North Country Strong. We are always looking for the latest medical technology and the best practices and people to protect and defend the health of you and your loved ones. For more information about Claxton-Hepburn’s commitment to you and the services we provide, connect with us through Facebook and Instagram or follow us on the web at www.claxtonhepburn.org.