In April, the hospital’s two-bed emergency room was replaced by a five-bed unit, three of which are in private rooms arranged in a semicircle around the new nurses’ station.
Walls are painted a soothing blue. “It’s brighter, more cheerful, and more efficient than before,” said hospital executive director Edmond Morache. “The old unit was built in 1969. From time to time, especially during skiing season or on weekends, we were backed up, with people waiting in the hallways. It was like a scene out of MASH. Now we will avoid that.”
During slow times, there’s often no wait at the emergency room. On a recent Tuesday afternoon in July, only one person was there, waiting for a patient to return from a diagnostic test. Screens at the nursing station display an x-ray and the view through the security camera at the emergency room entrance.
The hospital is well-equipped to provide emergency care. “If an elderly patient comes in and we suspect pneumonia,” explained Morache, “we might keep them for observation. If someone is in accident involving trauma, they could be stabilized here and taken to Kingston for further treatment. Sometimes we helicopter people to Albany or Westchester.”
Margaretville provides a wide range of health services. “We got a digital mammography unit about eight months ago,” said Morache, “and we’re looking at installing a new CAT scan. The one we have now is single-slice, and the new one will be 16-slice. We’ll be able to do a lot more diagnostic testing.” The radiology department also performs ultrasound, bone densitometry, echocardiograms, and Doppler studies.
The 15-bed rural hospital serves residents of Delaware, Greene, Ulster and Schoharie counties. It has a surgical department, qualified for general surgery, endoscopy, gastroenterology, orthopedics, gynecology, urology and podiatry. Other services include lab testing, physical and occupational therapy, rehabilitation and respite care. The hospital operates family health clinics in Roxbury and Margaretville.
“We’re trying to get more specialists,” said Morache, “and we’re beginning to succeed. We have a cardiologist, a podiatrist, and we’re looking at pain management. We’re trying to provide more services to people in the immediate area so they don’t have to travel so far. And HealthAlliance opens up communication with folks we might not have been in touch with before.”
A small town hospital
The main waiting room, furnished with leather couches and elegant potted plants, doubles as an art gallery, with new paintings each month by an artist from Roxbury Arts Group. A price list sits on the end table.
Though professionals in the registration office say what one would expect to hear in a bigger hospital, the tone is more like that of a local library. “We’re really a small-town hospital,” explained Morache. “Our staff are taking care of people they went to school with, people who had been their ministers and teachers. It’s one of the things that attracted me three years ago when I was hired here. We’re friendly, warm, and even though we’re in a rural area we’re able to keep up with technology as part of HealthAlliance.”
Is the small hospital an afterthought to HealthAlliance’s management? “Actually, it’s the opposite,” said Dr. Gene Heslin, chairman of the HealthAlliance board of directors. “When we do budgeting or planning, Margaretville gets the same attention as each of the two Kingston hospitals.”
A new ambulance was purchased with funds raised by the Margaretville Hospital Auxiliary. “They’re very active, and they do a great job,” said Morache. “Every year they hold a Harvest Moon Ball, and they run the thrift shop in town — it’s kind of the Macy’s of Margaretville.”
Morache pointed out the sign on Route 28 directing motorists up the hospital drive. “We recently got a solar-powered sign through a grant from HealthAlliance, and we replaced the signage all the way up the drive.”
Adjacent to the hospital is the Mountainside Residential Care Center, which won a 2010 state award from the Healthcare Association of New York State. The nursing home was praised for re-designing its nursing care and medication system, using electronic medication administration technology. Meanwhile, the Medicare.gov website gives Mountainside five stars (out of five) for quality of care.
The center provides semi-private and private rooms for more than 80 long-term care residents. Activities and events include pet therapy, holiday fairs, gardening, art instruction, day outings and musical entertainment. A café is open 24 hours a day. Among the 100 staff members are a dietitian, podiatrist, dentist, optometrist, and occupational, physical and speech therapists. Visiting hours are 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to Morache, Mountainside’s administrator, Philip Mehl, is “working toward resident-centered care, giving residents more choices, such as letting them choose their own eating times and giving them more say on activities. He’s making it more homelike.” ++
Margaretville Memorial Hospital and Mountainside Residential Care Center are located on Route 28, just east of Margaretville. See www.kingstonregionalhealth.org/margaretville, or call 586-2631.