North Country Commission Releases Report for Improving Health Systems In Adirondacks

ALBANY – (April 4, 2014) - The North Country Health Systems Redesign Commission has released its report, which includes a set of recommendations designed to stabilize the delivery of health care in the northern region of New York State while improving population health.

The Commission presented the report to Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH, the state Commissioner of Health on March 31. The report and additional information about the Commission are available at:

Dr. Shah formed the Commission in December and charged the group with creating an effective, integrated health care delivery system in communities throughout the nine-county region. The Commission held four public meetings that resulted in a comprehensive set of recommendations.

"The Commission has successfully completed this very challenging task," Shah said. "I commend them for their hard work and look forward to finding ways to implement their recommendations, which will benefit the 600,000 residents of the North Country."

The recommendations align with the State Health Innovation Plan (SHIP), New York State's roadmap for achieving the Triple Aim – improved patient care, better population health and reduced costs.

Among the recommendations in the final report:

  • Expansion of primary care using the Advanced Primary Care model proposed in the SHIP as well as the medical home pilot in the Eastern Adirondacks.
  • Creation of Regional Health Improvement Collaboratives (RHICs) to promote regional leadership and population health-based approach to health system resource evaluation and development.
  • Regulatory flexibility to facilitate Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) projects.
  • Integration of behavioral health care services with primary care.
  • Creation of a new funding category called Essential Community Health Networks, for essential health care facilities that are financially distressed as a result of their transformation activities.
  • Expansion of assisted living facilities throughout the region.
  • Development of programs and initiatives to build up the health care workforce throughout the region.
  • Expansion of telehealth services throughout the region.

Daniel Sisto, the chairman of the Commission, said the four-month process was an intensive one that benefitted from the engagement of multiple stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. The group held its third and final meeting on March 13 in Plattsburgh.

"Art Webb, Dr. John Rugge and I have been honored to lead this vital initiative to help ensure that our citizens in the North Country have access to quality health care services," Sisto said. "I expect the recommendations that have emerged from this effort will have a significant impact on the delivery and quality of health care in this challenging region of our state."

The North Country's health care delivery system is undergoing significant stress amid multiple health care reforms at both the state and federal levels. The problems are compounded by the region's aging population, growing rates of chronic disease and shortage of health care workers.

The report outlines possible ways to overcome these challenges and build a sustainable health care system in a region challenged by vast geography and small populations. Over the next few months, the Department of Health will closely evaluate the recommendations to determine which ones will be implemented and the best strategies for doing so.

North Country Health Systems Redesign Commission members are:

  • Chair: Daniel Sisto, Past President, Hospital Association of New York State (HANYS)
  • Co-Vice-Chair: Arthur Webb, Principal, Arthur Webb Group
  • Co-Vice-Chair: John Rugge, M.D., President and CEO, Hudson Headwaters Health Network, Chair of the Committee on Health Planning of the NYS Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC)
  • Cali Brooks, Executive Director, Adirondack Community Trust
  • Dan Burke, Regional President, Saratoga-Glens Falls Region-NBT Bank
  • Tedra Cobb, President, Tedra L. Cobb and Associates
  • Tom Curley, Past Executive Director, Associated Press
  • Susan Delehanty, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Advocates, Inc.
  • Garry Douglas, President and CEO, North Country Chamber of Commerce
  • Honorable Janet Duprey, New York State Assembly Member
  • Sherrie Gillette, Director of Community Mental Health Services, Clinton County
  • Honorable Betty Little, New York State Senator
  • Fred Monroe, Supervisor, Town of Chester
  • Honorable Patty Ritchie, New York State Senator
  • Neil Roberts, Board Member, Fort Hudson Health System
  • Honorable Addie Russell, New York State Assembly Member
  • Honorable Dan Stec, New York Assembly Member
  • Denise Young, Executive Director, Fort Drum Regional Planning Organization
  • Congressman Bill Owens, Special Advisor