The General Hospital of Saranac Lake was established in 1913 at the south edge of the village on Slater Hill for the general medical needs of the community, and for surgery, including the special surgeries needed for T. B. patients. In 1967, it moved to a new, larger facility the northern edge of the village on Lake Colby, on land donated by the James A. Latour family. In 1989, it merged with Placid Memorial Hospital, and the combined institution was named the Adirondack Medical Center.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, January 12, 1951 , reprinted in the Centennial edition of August 1994
DOCTORS PROPOSE MEDICAL CENTER
Recommend Ways To Widen Use of Health Services
Seventy-five local businessmen met with a group-of doctors last night at Hotel Saranac and enthusiastically supported the doctors' proposal for a Medical Center here.
The committee will report back to the larger group as quickly as possible and then, probably, to a Town Meeting of all interested citizens.
Health in Saranac Lake means health for Saranac Lake. That is the conclusion of the report on what the health services in this town mean to the town's economy. The report, "Saranac Lake's Stake in Tuberculosis," prepared by members of the Saranac Lake Medical Society, is printed in full in our columns today.
The report is an exhaustive study of the income Saranac Lake derives from its health services and an examination into causes for the decline in the number of sick who come here.
It concludes with a series of recommendations, chief among them a plan for the creation of a Medical Center, [illegible] for our health services.
The members of the Saranac Lake Medical Society have approved the report.
The report shows that even with the continuing decline in the number of people who come to use our health services, the amount of money, conservatively estimated, brought into Saranac Lake by those people is almost $4,000,000 each year. This is almost half of the estimated $9.5 million total retail sales here in 1949.
Data for the report was collected by a group of physicians through a careful study of all expenditures of various sanatoria and private cottages in the vicinity and through a series of detailed questionnaires sent to a large number of patients. The questionnaires asked in detail about patients' expenditures and costs.
The plan for a Saranac Lake Medical Center emphasizes chiefly at this time only the potential publicity activities of such an organization. Nothing in the plan necessarily limits its activities to pulmonary diseases- only. Its eventual relation to various health service organizations in town is not defined but there is no intent to absorb or to control them. It is hoped that all of them will join in the Center as autonomous members of one organization devoted to one end — the improvement in the use of the health services available in Saranac Lake.
The report carries no recommendations for financing the activities of such a Medical Center. That, the doctors feel, can be decided only in conjunction with all other Interests In Saranac Lake. Here follows the full text of the report.
The decrease in the number of patients coming to Saranac Lake for the treatment of tuberculosis over the past twenty years has been a source of concern to many of our citizens. While most are aware of this decrease, there is considerable lack of agreement regarding its significance to the community.
Accordingly, in search of pertinent facts, a survey of all sanatoria, cure cottages, administrative and professional personnel and patients was made during June, July and August 1950.
In spite of the known decline, it was conservatively estimated from the survey that $3,782,260 was spent in Saranac Lake during 1949 by patients with tuberculosis, their families, and their visitors. Most of this money was ultimately distributed amongst the business interests of Saranac Lake, either directly by the new comers, or indirectly by those employed in caring for the sick. And furthermore, all of this money was brought to Saranac Lake from outside sources.
[illegible section] support an additional 365 dependents.
Ray Brook Excluded
The New York State Hospital at Ray Brook was excluded from these calculations on the assumption that it would remain in full operation even if all private facilities were to close. Nevertheless, in 1949, this institution spent almost $400,000 for goods purchased and salaries paid to employees living in the Saranac Lake area. Furthermore, the survey indicates that Ray Brook patients and their visitors spend at least $150,000 in Saranac Lake every year.
Numerous other important sources of revenue were also excluded from calculations in the survey: a) The Trudeau Foundation (entirely separate from Trudeau Sanatorium), whose local expenditures in excess of $300,000 for equipment and salaries might not logically remain in Saranac Lake should the treatment of tuberculosis not continue here; b) The Saranac Lake Study and Craft Guild, whose annual expenditures exceed $100,000; c) Salaries to New York Central Railroad employees; certainly tuberculosis patients and [the article was continued, but the continuation was not printed in the Centennial Edition]
January 12, 1951, reprinted in the Centennial edition of August 1994
FIVE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT?
We believe the appearance of the report of the Saranac Lake Medical Association on the state of our town's chief activity is most fortunate at this time.
That report brings right out into the open the steady decline in the number of private patients coming here. That has been a matter of concerned comment for everyone who has a real interest in making a living here. A lot of the comment has not always been based on all the facts. The facts are right here today, in this paper.
There has been a lot of pipe-dreaming at times about turning the town into the St. Moritz of the North Country or into an industrial center. Nothing in the medical report urges that that dreaming, or planning, stop: to judge from the number of limping doctors around Mount Pisgah of a winter Sunday afternoon, they do a lot of dreaming about their own skiing. All of them would welcome the added number of patients that any industries that might settle here would bring.
Nowhere does the doctors' report urge that any possible sport or industrial activity be sidetracked. What the report does imply is that if the magnificent health services are allowed to depreciate, there may not be much of a town left for other plans or dreams.
Along with that dreaming it is time to face reality and to face it fast. Saranac Lake was built on health services. Right now, on this Friday night, January 12, 1951, a half of every dollar in the cash register of every merchant on Broadway has come from those health services. Those services, as fine in their field as any in the world, just aren't being used today as they could and should be.
Of course, this report can give all the cynics a chance for a fine lot of braying: they say that the doctors, concerned about a decrease in their incomes here are moved now solely by selfish alarm. If the cynics will atop heehawing for a moment and think, they will realize that there is scarcely a doc- (continued on Page' Seven)
Let's Look at the Figures
The graph below shows at a glance the rise and fall of the number of new patients registered in Saranac Lake each year since 1915.
If you prefer your figures in tables here they are.
|1915 — 1052||1924 — 1352||1933 — 373||1924 — 308|
|1916 — 1175||1925 — 1499||1934 — 454||1943 — 381|
|1917 — 1289||1926 — 1447||1935 — 407||1944 — 405|
|1918 — 1180||1927 — 1397||1936 — 420||1945 — 273|
|1919 — 1572||1928 — 1332||1937 — 372||1946 — 299|
|1920 — 1696||1929 — 1359||1938 — 344||1947 — 200|
|1921 — 1573||1930 — 1037||1939 — 257||1948 — 188|
|1922 — 1521||1931 — 789||1940 — 274||1949 — 181|
|1923 — 1632||1932 — 576||1941 — 284||1950 — 102|
The figures on new patients registered do not, of course, give the complete picture of the patient census in Saranac Lake. Many patients who come remain for a year and longer.
WHAT THE FIGURES ON NEW ARRIVALS DO FORESHADOW IS THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE.
The total private patient census in December of recent years in the town, including all those in private cottages, in private homes, in Northwoods, Prescott House, and at the Will Rogers is as follows:
|Private homes or apartments||225||225||155||146|
ALL BUSINESS SHOWN SHARING HEALTH INCOME
Butcher, barber, beauty shop, and bass plugs — shoes, salami, skirts, —taxis, toys, tourist cabins, galoshes, grass seed, gearshifts—
That's where the money from health service goes, as well as into a hundred other products and services. That's what the men who sent out the questionnaire to determine the patient's place in Saranac Lake's economy found out.
The first questionnaires went to a large group of patients in sanatoria and in private cottages. Almost all of them answered in the most complete detail: "How much do you spend weekly in Saranac Lake? For doctors? Room and board? Medicine? Surgery? Clothes? Extra food? Incidentals?" Then followed questions less obvious: "How many visitors do you have from out of town? How long do they stay? Where? How much do they spend? What do they buy?"
Equally detailed questionnaires went to a group of patients who had taken apartments or houses in town alone or with their families. In addition to the above questions they were asked "How much rent do you pay? What help do you employ and at what salaries? Expenditures at garages for service, etc?" (One family with one member sick reported spending more than $900 per month for more than a year.)
The answers on these questionnaires were lumped together and averaged. From those figures a most conservative estimate was made of the expenditures of patients in the various categories.
To these were added the expenditures of the various semiprivate sanatoria—Gabriels, Trudeau, Stoney Wold, Northwoods and Will Rogers.
The proprietors of the private cottages were queried about their expenditures, about the number of help employed and their dependents.
As the doctor's report shows, several items that might fairly have been included in any total were omitted, in order to present a total that would be conservative beyond question.
The total—$3.8 million. Retail sales here for 1949 were estimated at $9.5. That pair of figures tells what the health services mean to the economy of the town.
Plus one additional fact: Every cent of that money is what the banks call "foreign money," money brought into the town from outside. That's the kind of money vital to a town's economy if everyone is not to take in everyone else's washing.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 7, 1962
New Saranac Lake General Hospital Planned and Fund Drive Underway
Lack of Facilities in Old Hospital and Inability to Expand There Cited as Reasons for Turning to Construction of New Building
The long-talked-about new hospital for Saranac Lake is one step closer to reality now and a drive has begun to raise the necessary funds to build it.
Preliminary plans show a new fireproof building with a sixty-bed capacity as designed by the architectural firm of Distin and Wareham of Saranac Lake. The architects' sketch is printed above. No definite site has been selected, but a typical and suggested site is a 38 -acre plot above Lake Street on a slightly sloping hillside. The corner of the land is close to Elbow Street.
Cost of the new hospital is estimated at $1,000,000, one third of which will be provided by the Federal Government through the Hill-Burton Fund. The remaining two-thirds must be raised in the community.
According to a report issued by the Board of Directors of the General Hospital of Saranac Lake, construction will begin as soon as plans are approved and sufficient funds are available.
The Lake Street site is only tentative; the present site is not suitable for expansion, and ideas are being solicited for possible alternate locations.
The brochure explains that while the present hospital offers the "best" medical staff and medical care, the physical plant is very deficient. The General Hospital, they note, has been declared unsuitable for long-range planning by the New York Slate Department of Health, Division of Hospital Review and Planning. This decision made in 1951 and each year afterwards, increased demands and pressures for a more modern plant have been made by the department.
According to the report, the present hospital is not fireproof and cannot be made fireproof, "at any cost."
The present hospital has 13 private rooms, only three of which have a private toilet. There are inadequate toilets to service 41 beds and over 100 employees. There is also no suitable ambulance entrance.
The general conditions at the hospital are described as overcrowded and much of the physical plant has become obsolete through age. The size is also a problem.
When the patient load is high, occupied beds must be moved into the corridors.
The present hospital was incorporated in 1913 as a voluntary nonprofit institution and accommodated 12 patients . The original building was the gift of Mr. Redfield Proctor and Miss Emily Dutton Proctor, as a memorial to Mrs. Jane Hopkins Fairchild, and Dr. Norman McLeod Carter.
In 1924 a new, wing was added at a cost of $70,000 . This new wing contained 4 private rooms and a 6-bed ward.
A year later the Maternity wing was completed. During recent' years the average number of babies born annually has been 250. In 1930, the hospital was debt free.
In 1941, Edmond A. Guggenheim offered funds for the construction of the present Guggenheim Wing as a memorial to his father Murry Guggenheim. The wing was completed a year later. Also in 1942, the present Men's ward was rebuilt through funds obtained from New York City.
Since that time additional facilities have been added to the existing hospital. These include a second operating room, an X-ray and Deep Therapy Department, a fully equipped and staffed laboratory, and a Physical Therapy Department.
But with the long list of new facilities which the hospital needs in order to maintain its position as first-rate, a new building is needed. To accomplish this, the plans were made for the new hospital and now the funds must be pledged to make its construction possible.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 26, 1964
Hospital Proceeds on Single Plan, Latour Site Favored for Building
Richard E. Basile, president of the Board of Directors of General Hospital of Saranac Lake, announced today that the Hospital is proceeding with its plans to build a single new medical facility for the residents of the Saranac Lake area.
In a letter to the Syracuse Regional Council the Board of Directors indicated that the Latour property opposite Lake Colby has been tentatively selected as the favored site on which to build the new hospital.
The Ray Brook site, which was under consideration had there been a consummation of merged facilities of general hospital and Lake Placid Memorial Hospital was voted unanimously by the General Hospital Board as an unfavorable location for a single effort.
Mr. Basile pointed out that eight potential sites had been considered on which to construct the new medical facility. As determined by the architect's preliminary surveys and studies of all eight sites, the Latour property has much to offer. Its location provides for easy accessibility, its typography is excellent, there is ample acreage, the view from the property across Lake Colby is most attractive, the area is away from objectionable noises and other nuisances and the land is valuable to the Hospital without cost. While adequate water and sewer facilities are not available at the present time to service a large structure, Village and Town officials have expressed their willingness to assist in providing these facilities. There is a possibility that Public Work Funds will be granted to cover these costs and preliminary negotiations to secure such funds have been investigated.
According to Mr. Basile, the many deficiencies in the present Hospital building have dictated the urgency which has forced the Board in its unanimous action to build a new medical facility in a single effort. He stated that it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide accommodations for the many patients who have need of General Hospital's medical treatment and services.
In reference to the much talked about, but never finalized merger, he emphasized that the Board members of General Hospital have gone on record as being in favor of a merger on several occasions, the most recent being in the form of a resolution which was jointly requested in January of this year by the Syracuse Regional Hospital Council and the North Eastern Hospital Council. The Lake Placid Memorial Board was requested to forward the same resolution. According to the public statement made by Edward Aksel, executive secretary of the Syracuse Council at the end of January, Mr. Aksel said he knew of no resolution forwarded by the Lake Placid Memorial Hospital Board.
While it is regrettable that the facilities are not being merged, Mr. Basile said, it is the responsibility of our Board to provide adequate hospital facilities for all of the people in the Saranac Lake and to provide them as soon as possible. He further stated that application for a grant of federal aid from the Accelerated Public Works Funds naming the Latour property as the site tentatively selected is being submitted. If approved, this grant would provide one-half of the total cost of the new Hospital Building.
The architectural firm of Cannon, Thiele, Betz and Cannon of Niagara Falls, in association with Distin and Wareham of Saranac Lake, have been engaged to prepare plans for the new Hospital building.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 8, 1967
Crowds Jam New Hospital Dedication
In the briefest of ceremonies, due the inclement weather, the new Saranac Lake General Hospital was officially dedicated at 2 p. m. yesterday afternoon.
Estimates of the number of people present varied from "over a thousand" to "several thousand" but there were many more on hand than had been expected.
Among the visitors was, so far as can be determined, the only person who was present at the dedication of the old hospital in 1913. She is Mrs. Eleanor Von Ottenfield of 24 Forest Hill Avenue. Mrs. Von Ottenfield, who is an aunt of astronaut Walter Schirra, was recently a patient at the old hospital. She was brought to the ceremonies yesterdays by Dr. Richard Bellaire.
Plans for the actual moving from the old facilities are very detailed. It is hoped that the moving will be [completed] within two weeks. Four ambulances will move the patients.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 12, 1989
Plan will create 'one hospital at two locations'
By JULIE STOWELL
SARANAC LAKE — Call it a consolidation, an affiliation, a merger, whatever. The two area hospitals are today a big step closer to operating as a single medical facility, albeit in two locations.
The final consolidation of the General Hospital of Saranac Lake and Placid Memorial Hospital will be beneficial to area residents in need of medical care, according to a spokeswoman at the Saranac Lake facility.
"Both hospitals will be drawing together into a more efficient unit," explained spokeswoman Lisa Forrest.
"It would be one hospital at two locations," she said.
The plan to consolidate services under a new corporation, called Adirondack Medical Center, was announced by the respective hospital boards this week.
Patients will benefit from what Forrest says will be improved cost control and the possibility for expanded services, in addition to having greater access to walk-in care.
Few services will be duplicated once consolidation is complete, she said.
However, "there will definitely be an emergency room in Placid," Forrest stated. The second emergency room is necessary to provide closer emergency care for residents of Keene, Wilmington and Jay, she explained.
"The outcome is sure to be a stronger, more versatile organization, capable of providing more care to more people in more communities," predicted James J. Morrissey Jr., administrator of the General Hospital of Saranac Lake.
"We are convinced that what we are doing will result in the best possible health care for people living in the many communities of our Adirondack region," said the Placid hospital's board chairman, Alfred Quinn.
The consolidation has been a goal of the two hospitals for a number of years now and will, Forrest said, safeguard the existence of Placid Memorial Hospital. It was only two years ago that the state Health Department was pressing to reduce acute care beds there or shut it down completely.
The two hospitals last October formed Adirondack Health Initiatives, a joint corporation intended to serve in an advisory and planning capacity for both institutions. That group will continue to serve as the formal planning body and will oversee this second step toward a full merger, or, as hospital officials prefer to call it, consolidation.
A final consolidation plan is scheduled to be completed sometime this fall, Forrest explained, and could be put into action as early as January 1990 after the state requirements and forms are worked through.
The plan calls for the creation of one hospital, the Adirondack Medical Center, with services in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Lake Placid's role would be primarily dealing with minor surgery and outpatient surgery, Forrest said. The hospital in Saranac Lake will continue to provide services already available, and will be the primary acute care center for inpatients, she explained.
Several satellite health care centers are expected, Forrest added, and officials are also considering the development of a major sports medicine program at Lake Placid.
The recently-opened Health Care Center at Placid Memorial would become even more important, Forrest said. The walk-in urgent care facility has just added two doctors to its staff, both scheduled to begin work within two weeks.
At this point, Forrest said, plans are very general. No decisions have been made on the possible need to move staff from one facility to another or the possible phasing out of duplicated positions. Also unsettled is the fate of each hospital's endowment, which have remained separate up to this point.
"It's too early to tell," Forrest said.
To accomplish the consolidation both facilities are conducting complete internal surveys of inventories, debts, contracts, and assets. The boards also intend to have an outside consultant draw up a formal business plan to organize the coordination of departments between the two hospitals.