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"We stand ready"
KINGSTON – The shape of things to come, for Kingston's former Benedictine
Hospital campus, is still up in the air.
Lack of specific details highlighted the speech given by Health Alliance
President David Lundquist on Wednesday morning, at the Ulster County Chamber
of Commerce breakfast.
"The State of New York is unique in its ability to make things take
longer," Lundquist told the business community. "We stand ready,
working arm-in arm with the Department of Health – but there's no
single shot financial solution, and that’s the challenge we have
in working with public and private funding sources in putting that plan
Lundquist told the business people they are doing that daily. “We're
hopeful that we'll get that done soon, but I can't give you a date,"
Kingston Hospital merged with Benedictine Hospital five years ago, under
pressure from the Berger Commission to reduce hospital bed over-capacity
statewide. At the time, closing Kingston Hospital would have resulted
in the remaining Catholic hospital maintaining a policy against abortion
In 2012, Health Alliance announced it will be forced to close down one
of Kingston's two hospitals, due to fiscal shortfalls. Benedictine was
chosen as the survivor, because of parking, expansion, and related issues.
Benedictine will be renamed, and turned into a non-secular institution.
Kingston Hospital, now known as the "Broadway Campus," remains
open, but is expected to be turned into a medical college. The Broadway
emergency room will eventually move back to Benedictine, currently referred
to as the "Mary's Avenue Campus."
"There are parties that have expressed serious interest in re-purposing
the building," Lundquist indicated of the extra hospital on Broadway.
"Obviously those discussions will accelerate dramatically, once we
have a plan," he noted.
"If you know of services we currently provide, you can expect those
same services going forward, with very few exceptions. The final plan
will be determined by completing our funding package," Lundquist
added. "Until we get that final plan, we don't know what that actually
One of the causes of Health Alliance's money problems comes from the Metropolitan
Statistical Area wage index, which sets government Medicare hospital compensation
rates lower for Ulster County than surrounding areas – costing the
community $10 million per year. The federal policy was set arbitrarily
"You put that over a 10 year period, it doesn't take a calculator
to determine the amount of money that is available to our surrounding
counties, and to those that are only five miles away," Lundquist
said. "[MSA wage index] has been addressed many times, in many ways;
I can assure you that we are putting our foot on the accelerator with
that. It's wrong, and it must be fixed," he said.