Earlier this year, I enjoyed meeting with a group of 50 community leaders and public officials from Champlain and nearby towns—communities that form an arc along the international border. They came to a “friend-raising” gathering to learn more about Hudson Headwaters and our plans to replace our aging (and crumbling) North County Family Health facility. Many who came had long been served by Dr. Maurice Racine, who leads the practice, and they have great trust in him. But Hudson Headwaters? They didn’t know much about us, and they were curious.
As we gathered, I couldn’t help but recall all the times that I have told the Hudson Headwaters story – how people from small, rural communities have reached out to us because they were about to lose medical services, a cornerstone of community life. Again and again, we’ve been asked to find ways to keep health care local, and to secure it for the foreseeable future. That’s how Hudson Headwaters has grown from a single health center in Chestertown in 1974, to 17 health centers today. And that’s what we’re doing again in Champlain.
Just a few years ago, Dr. Racine realized that he couldn’t practice forever, and he wanted to make sure that the people who counted on him would have dependable care after he retires. He turned to Hudson Headwaters. Next year, Champlain will have a new, state-of-the-art primary care facility, joining communities like Chestertown, Fort Edward, Moriah, Queensbury and Warrensburg that have seen new Hudson Headwaters health centers go up in the past dozen years.
Partnership and Collaboration
While Hudson Headwaters is an independent organization and always will be (community health centers are not allowed to be controlled or sponsored by any other entity), we are now more deeply connected than ever with other health care organizations. I was joined in Champlain by leaders from organizations that Hudson Headwaters depends on to help deliver care. Stephens Mundy, the president and CEO of CVPH in Plattsburg talked about his collaboration with Hudson Headwaters, how we have been working together on the Adirondack Medical Home Pilot. He also spoke to the success of his program to establish a training program for family medicine residents. Growing your own physicians has become vitally important to the future of care.
Another of our health care partners joined in, Diana Scalise, Senior VP for Strategy for the University of Vermont Health Network, the organization that is helping to revitalize the health care system in Ticonderoga – a process that we’re very much part of. Also, starting next spring, we will begin training medical students from UVM at Hudson Headwaters’ health centers.
I see the same spirit of cooperation in Glens Falls, with Hudson Headwaters coordinating activities with Glens Falls Hospital, at both the board and administrative levels. We are jointly planning ways to meet the region’s medical needs through projects like recruiting new physicians, establishing a specialty care suite in the new Warrensburg Health Center, and expanding palliative care services.
What’s exceptional is that these collaborations are occurring with organizations that had long been competitors. Going it alone simply doesn’t work anymore. When it comes to health care, it’s all about coming together.