This week’s issue – July 22, 2016

Photo by Ken Cashman The intersection of Jackson and Route 94 was busy on Monday evening, July 18. The vehicle on the right is waiting for an opening to cross the highway.

Photo by Ken Cashman
The intersection of Jackson and Route 94 was busy on Monday evening, July 18. The vehicle on the right is waiting for an opening to cross the highway.

Intersection needs a light

The Town supervisor is emphatic in describing the need for a traffic light on Route 94 at Jackson. “It’s the most dangerous intersection in Cornwall,” Richard Randazzo claims.

He maintains that people trying to turn off Jackson Avenue have a problem. “94 at that point is an ‘S’ curve,” he says. “There’s an issue with depth perception. You can’t tell how far away a vehicle is or how fast it’s going.”

The Bethlehem Presbyterian Church is at the northwest corner of the intersection. On July 14, a truck crashed into the church’s electric sign after trying to avoid a passenger car. Page 1A

Planning Board OKs home yoga studio

On Tuesday night, the Cornwall-on-Hudson Planning Board granted conditional approval allowing Kelly Yarpezeshkan to open a yoga studio in her Riverside Drive home. The existing space was previously used as a doctor’s office.

A public hearing, held last month, drew a crowd of neighbors and other village residents, some of whom spoke against the application citing use of the home as a commercial enterprise and additional traffic on Grandview Avenue and Riverside Drive as concerns. Page 1A

Gravel runoff an issue for resident

During the public comment period of Monday night’s Cornwall-on-Hudson Board of Trustees meeting, Dave Goldfarb spoke about wheelbarrows full of gravel collecting in front of his driveway. He said several neighbors have gravel driveways and after a heavy rain, water washes away the small stones which end up at the foot of his driveway. In the past, the DPW had used the street sweeper to clear the pile-up, but Goldfarb said he was recently informed this would not continue due to liability concerns. Page 1A

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Finances impacted hospital decision

Michelle Rider, chairperson of the SLCH trustees, responds to questions at the July 22 meeting,

Michelle Rider, chairperson of the SLCH trustees, responds to questions at the July 22 meeting,

“We wore out a path to Albany,” Michelle Rider told the community leaders at yesterday’s meeting in the Medical Arts Building. The chairwoman of the Board of Trustees said St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital (SLCH) was turned down five times in its request for funding. “We were not financially sick enough,” Ms. Rider said. “There were some hospitals on respirators.”

But SLCH needed assistance. It was losing money on 70 percent of the patients it treated. In another year it could be on a financial respirator itself.

On June 5, the trip to Albany was finally rewarding. The state agreed to provide funding based on the hospital’s five-year plan, which included a reduction in the number of patients coming to SLCH for emergency care, and the closing of the Emergency Department (ED) in Cornwall.

Interim President and CEO Joan Cusack McGuirk said the number of patients coming to the ED in Cornwall has declined for seven straight years, as more people are using urgent care and extended primary care centers in the area. That’s in keeping with the hospital’s plan.

Mrs. Cusack McGuirk confirmed that when the Cornwall ED closes on Oct. 1, the hospital will increase its capacity for emergency treatment in Newburgh. But County Legislator Kevin Hines was skeptical. “The halls of the Newburgh ED are overflowing with patients,” he said. “How will you handle the more than 250 people a week who’ll be coming from Cornwall?”

While hospital official Dan Maughan said an overflow of patients is an infrequent occurrence, it did happen on Thursday, July 21. A resident who brought his son to the Newburgh ED observed six gurneys with patients in the hall.

Local officials didn’t know ED was closing

After this morning's meeting, Cornwall Supervisor Richard Randazzo repeated his concerns in a conversation with interim hospital president & CEO Joan Cusack-McGuirk.

After this morning’s meeting, Cornwall Supervisor Richard Randazzo repeated his concerns in a conversation with interim hospital president & CEO Joan Cusack-McGuirk.

The decision to close the Cornwall Emergency Department surprised the area’s elected officials.

They had hoped to have input before the hospital reached a decision. At a Friday morning meeting in the Medical Arts Building on the Cornwall Campus, they reacted to the lack of notification.

“You kept us in the dark. There was no flow of communication coming out of the hospital,” Cornwall Supervisor Richard Randazzo said. “You have a lot of disappointed residents in your service area.”

Mayor Brendan Coyne of Cornwall-on-Hudson referred to the dialogue three years ago when the hospital wanted to make the ED a part-time facility. “The one major lesson,” he recalled, “was Public Relations. We kept saying ‘tell us what you’re doing.'”

The hospital will do that at a Monday night Town Hall meeting at Anthony’s Pier 9. They’ll unveil their plans and answer questions at a session that is due to start at 6 p.m. But Mayor Coyne said that’s too late. He and the other officials should have been consulted long in advance.

The closing of the ED is part of a five-year sustainability plan that the State Department of Health approved on June 5. The hospital will get $14 million from the state between now and next spring, and is due to receive another $39 million over a five-year period if it continues to adhere to its proposal.

That’s important because  SLCH (like many hospitals) has a serious cash flow problem. CFO Ted Gibney said the hospital has lost $65 million since 2007, and was in danger of running out of funds next year.

Assemblyman James Skoufis did not believe that the ED decision was linked to the hospital’s decision was linked to the hospital’s financial status. “We would be having this conversation,” he said, “even if you were breaking even.”

Interim hospital president and CEO Joan Cusack-McGuirk didn’t disagree, but she said it was redundant to have two emergency departments 5.2 miles apart.

Kevin Hines, Chris Eachus and other county legislators were concerned about the Oct. 1 closure date, because the Cornwall ED is an integral part of the county’s Emergency Response plan. It’s unlikely that the plan can be fully updated in just two months.

 

 

 

Legislative group passes SLCH resolution

Last night the county legislature’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee passed a resolution asking St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital to reverse its decision on closing the Cornwall Emergency Department.

The resolution also asks the hospital trustees to find an alternate solution to the problem by working with elective officials and emergency responders from the communities  affected by their decision.

The committee sent copies of the resolution to the hospital trustees and interim president, as well as Gov. Cuomo, Sen. Larkin, Assemblyman Skoufis, the state health commissioner, the state Department of Public Health, and the elected leaders of neighboring communities.

Buck Moon

(Photo by Jason Kaplan) Tuesday night’s rising moon had an orange glow due to particles in the atmosphere scattering the light. The July full moon is also known as the “Buck Moon” because this month male deer start to grow antlers.

(Photo by Jason Kaplan)
Tuesday night’s rising moon had an orange glow due to particles in the atmosphere scattering the light. The July full moon is also known as the “Buck Moon” because this is the month when male deer start to grow antlers.

Big city trip leads to choice of show

(Photo by Ken Cashman) Coming together: After singing “Opening for a Princess,” the cast for “Once Upon a Mattress” huddles in the center of the stage.

(Photo by Ken Cashman)
Coming together: After singing “Opening for a Princess,” the cast for “Once Upon a Mattress” huddles in the center of the stage.

The cast for “Once Upon a Mattress” got to experience the show before they knew they’d be in it.

Right after Christmas, they attended a master class at the Prospect Theater in New York City, which was hosting a Broadway revival of the musical.

The kids got to perform one of the numbers on stage, with  Tim Dolan (the company’s dance captain) giving them directions. A “captain,” we learned, is a cast member who is also responsible for the dancers around him.

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Bethje in rare group of Dressage horses

Photos contributed Bethje and her trainer, Susan Stegmeyer during competition. Over the past six years they have earned 78 ribbons.

Photo contributed
Bethje and her trainer, Susan Stegmeyer during competition. Over the past six years they have earned 78 ribbons.

When there’s big news the desire is to share it with everyone. That’s what Marybeth and Arthur Walker, of Cornwall, did in announcing the achievement of their horse, Bethje (pronounced Beth ee).

Bethje recently qualified for and was awarded the prestigious Sports Predicate in Dressage by the Friesian Horse Association of North America. She’s only the 38th Friesian Mare in North America to earn this designation. In recognition of this title, the horse gains a new title – Bethje Star Sport.

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St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital to close emergency department

Effective Oct. 1, St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital will be closing its emergency department to align itself with healthcare reform trends and initiatives. It’s believed the closing will result in a $3.2 million savings, but will impact roughly 250,000 Hudson Valley patients regionally. A Town Hall meeting regarding the closure will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday at Anthony’s Pier 9, 2975 US-9W, New Windsor.

According to a press release posted on the hospital’s web site today, New York State is requiring hospitals to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department visits by 25 percent.  Utilization of the Cornwall emergency department has continued on a steady decline for seven consecutive years. The emergency department saw an average of fewer than two patients per hour last year. Of those, fewer than one in ten needed hospitalization, which occurs on the main campus in Newburgh.

Hospital officials believe the closure of the emergency department will not impede access to care, as the hospital’s Newburgh campus is located roughly five miles away from the Cornwall campus. Additionally, five urgent care centers have opened within nine miles of the hospital in recent years. This, coupled with the expansion of primary care throughout the hospital’s service area, make two emergency departments within five miles of each other a model that is no longer sustainable.

“St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital’s proposal was an affront to the community three years ago and it is an affront now,” Assemblyman James Skoufis said in a press release. “The hospital’s plan to close the Cornwall emergency room will not move forward without a fight.”

In 2013, the hospital applied to the Department of Health for permission to close the Cornwall Emergency Department from 10 at night until 10 in the morning. At that time, the hospital maintained over an 18-month period it had treated only 600 patients  between those hours.

“It’s unfortunate they’re forcing us to revisit this,” Skoufis said during a phone interview. “As much as I wasn’t shocked I was still hopeful the hospital would have accepted the outcome from two and a half years ago and realized this is a service the community not only wants but needs. Unfortunately, they did not accept that.”

To read the entire press release, visit http://www.stlukescornwallhospital.org/news/Pages/SLCH-to-Close-its-Cornwall-Emergency-Department-.aspx?

 

 

 

11-year-olds finish second

The Dragons needed one more win to claim the District 19 banner. They got off to a good start on Sunday afternoon in Warwick, but the home team rallied for a 10-7 victory. Carter Hershberger, Michael Leach and Tim Patterson each had two hits.

In action elsewhere, the 9-10 All Stars split two games over the weekend to remain alive in the section tournament — the next level after district play.

Michael Leach scores Cornwall's second run in the championship game against Warwick.

Michael Leach scores Cornwall’s second run in the championship game against Warwick.