News & Events


Columbia Memorial's growth plan ensures top patient care


"We haven't even had time to take a breath," said Columbia Memorial Hospital CEO Jane Ehrlich. "In our goal to be better, we have experienced one of the fastest growth spurts in the hospital's

history, yet one of the most rewarding in terms of national and state rankings and outcomes for our patients. As we head into 2012, there will be more of the same."

It didn't happen by accident. Ehrlich and her management team drew up a blueprint for controlled growth five years ago that would ensure absolute safety, provide optimum care, and implement new surgical techniques. They hired the top doctors, physician assistants and nurses to implement the growth. Along the way they also created a medical records system to track it all across the hospital and the 28 outpatient sites in their three-county region that spreads from Windham to Chatham, Red Hook to Valatie. They've moved fast to implement the level of service the community wants.

"Columbia Memorial Hospital is on the leading-edge in the healthcare environment. We have a system-wide focus on recruiting the best physicians, installing state-of-the-art equipment, software and processes that ensure patient safety, superior surgical outcomes, family-centered births, and expert emergency care. We have committed more than $25 million dollars in the last five years ($60 million in a decade) and thousands of hours of training to achieve this position," she said. The list of what the hospital has done and is doing is long.


A sampling for what's coming this year:


* The hospital will start a Spine Institute under the guidance of spine surgeon Ersno Eromo, MD, in practice now at Columbia

Memorial Bone and Joint. Dr. Eromo, in collaboration with pain management physician Ronnie Kafiluddi, MD, is developing a multi-disciplinary treatment center for back pain and showing patients how to manage their disease, including information about the various treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical. The plan includes the addition of acupuncture and chiropractic options. That center will be located at 23 Fish and Game Road in Greenport and redesign of the facility is underway.


* A new pediatric center, combining the practices of Marjorie Barnett, MD, MBA, FAAP, and that of Hasmukh Harde, MD, FAAP, and Connie Signor, RN, MS, PNP, opened at 813 Warren Street in bright, cheerful, expanded facilities conducive to helping the young families that will bring their children for diagnosis and treatment.


* The hospital has opened a new walk-in Urgent Care Center to serve patients of all ages who have minor medical emergencies.

The facility is located at the Ocean State Job Lots Plaza on Route 9 in Valatie.The new facility will treat patients who have an injury or

illness that requires immediate care but is not serious enough to warrant a visit to an emergency department. The Urgent Care facility will accept walk-in patients for X-rays, treatment of broken bones and sprains, suturing of simple cuts, and provide diagnosis and treatment of other illnesses. Board certified and emergency-trained physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants will provide care at the site from 9 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday, and weekends from 9 am to 9 pm.


* The practice of Kinderhook Medical Care with Brian Daggett, MD, Elizabeth Howard, DO, and Todd Sandegato, RPA-C was moved to Ocean State Job Lots Plaza. The practice of Stephen Krizar, MD, Helen Brady, FNP, and Susan Mekosh, RPA-C, of Valatie Family Care, occupies an adjoining space. Those practices were formerly at the Valatie Medical Arts Building.

"We've done this to better serve patients with more accessible exam rooms, accessible office space and reception areas and more convenient parking," said Steve Anderson, Vice President of Family Practice Management.


* New physicians have been added to support the hospital's growth. Beside Dr. Barnett, Dr. Eromo and Dr. Kafiluddi, Anna Maria Assevero, MD, practices internal medicine at Hudson Medical Care. She comes from Montefiore Medical Group in New York.


Tanya Thompson-Badamosi, MD, is now heading up Columbia Memorial Endocrinology. Before coming to Columbia Memorial, she received her Endocrinology Fellowship from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Satish Divvela, MD, an anesthesiologist at the hospital, completed his anesthesiology residency at Drexel University College of Medicine/Hanemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Swapna Nalgonda, MD, is an obstetrician/gynecologist at the Women's Health Center of Columbia Memorial Hospital. Dr. Nalgonda completed her OB/GYN residency at Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx.


Umesh Patel, MD is a board certified rheumatologist with Columbia Memorial Rheumatology. Dr. Patel completed his fellowship in the Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology at Westchester Medical Center's New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY where he

was also chief resident in the Department of Internal Medicine.

Monica Reed, MD is a hospitalist who joined Columbia Memorial Hospital from her previous practice at Delta County Medical Hospital in Delta, CO where she was ICU Director. Mehjabin Zahir, MD, is a pulmonologist/critical care specialist. Previous to coming here, she

completed a fellowship in critical care medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, and a fellowship in pulmonary medicine at Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.


Acquisition of practices/facility expansions


Twin County Cardiology, with offices in Catskill and Hudson, has also joined the Columbia Memorial family of specialty practices as has Greene Medical Imaging in Jefferson Heights in Catskill and Valatie Medical Imaging in Valatie.


Columbia Memorial also expanded the emergency department of the Kellner Wing, to handle increased patient volume. A new area for treating psychiatric patients was added. The space was tailored to their specific needs and in turn frees up space within the existing Emergency Department for medical surgical patients.

Quality rankings


To confirm the success of this growth plan at the hospital, Ehrlich cited the following statistics:


* The hospital was in the first 4% of hospitals nationwide to meet

Federal standards for employing electronic health records technology to reduce errors, reduce costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. In early 2010, Columbia Memorial launched this electronic health records system to provide safer, quicker access to patient information. The system covers 26 clinical locations and more than 200 providers in Columbia and Greene counties


* Columbia Memorial's pharmacy is in the top 20% of hospital pharmacies nationwide that have implemented a hospital-wide, automated medical administration system that utilizes barcoding that decreases adverse drug events and dispensing errors. According to Pharmacy Director Shanda Steenburn, PhD, the hospital has technology that reads not only mandated barcoding, but all types of barcodes, minimizing the potential for error.


* Columbia Memorial is one of only 300 hospitals (6%) nationwide using an advanced hypothermia protocol on cardiac patients. Hypothermia reduces the body's core temperature to vastly improve chances for a full recovery.


* The Gold Performance Achievement Award from the American Heart Association Award recognizes the hospital's commitment and success in implementing the highest standards of care for congestive heart failure patients successfully.


* Columbia Memorial was the first hospital in New York State to be named a national Center of Excellence in laparoscopic gynecological surgery by the American Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery.


* 100% of hospital staff, including medical staff, has completed comprehensive patient safety training. The safety of every patient is the hospital's top priority - always.


"Our quality of care indicators that are documented by the federal government demonstrate that we are at 100% with regard to most of their benchmarks," said Ehrlich. "The fact that both our entire hospital staff and our entire medical staff have undertaken education in patient safety techniques, coupled with our daily focus on patient safety, is paying huge dividends," she said. "Our goal is to become the first hospital in New York State with zero events of patient harm."


Kaaterskill Care


Citing a need in Greene County for affordable housing for the elderly and options for 'aging in place' close to centralized medical services, Columbia Memorial Hospital helped build a new 21 unit senior housing complex. Called Kaaterskill Manor, it is in Jefferson Heights in Catskill next to Kaaterskill Care Nursing and Rehabilitation. Five years in the planning and implementation, the $4.5 million dollar project began with a $3.2 million grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, with additional funding coming from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

"The Manor is part of a continuum of care campus to meet the needs of the elderly at all levels," said Todd Zbytniewski, Vice President of Operations of Kaaterskill Care, an affiliate of Columbia Memorial. This is a way to centralize services for the elderly close to medical services such as dialysis and rehabilitation. The 18,000 square foot facility has 21, one bedroom apartments of approximately 600 square feet with a large first floor commons and common areas on the other two floors of the three-floor facility.


According to hospital CEO Ehrlich, this was a new initiative for the hospital. She cited studies which show that access to care for the elderly shows as a positive improvement in preventing illness.


"By placing senior housing in close proximity to medical services, we anticipate a positive benefit to their health," she said.

"There are no medical facilities involved," she said, "but senior housing close to a variety of health care services helps prevent the deterioration of the health of seniors."


Residents have primary access to Columbia Memorial Hospital's primary care physicians and specialists, a blood draw station, and dialysis services. Zbytniewski said that residents who are capable of living independently may do so, and, if necessary, can transition to a nursing home environment at Kaaterskill Care.


Besides the Manor, Kaaterskill Care is undergoing extensive remodeling and refurbishment of the facility to better serve the residents.


Economic engine


In total, Columbia Memorial has become the engine of the local economy, and has an impact of $193,442,000 annually, according to figures

compiled by the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS)

and the hospital.


Columbia Memorial increases commerce through the fifteen-hundred people it employs, purchase of supplies, and hiring local contractors. In addition, employees spend their salaries and pay state and local sales taxes, further impacting our economy. This is in addition to the positive impact the hospital has providing expert medicine for the whole family in Greene, Columbia and Northern Dutchess counties: birthing babies, caring for the aged, promoting healthy lifestyles, providing advanced surgical procedures, and addressing emergencies.


"The hospital treats more than 34,000 patients in our emergency department every year, delivers 500 babies, and provides more than 180,000 physician office visits. Our annual operating budget is over $145,000,000 and we employ more than 1,500 individuals who reside

in our area," said CEO Jane Ehrlich.


Ehrlich said that the hospital has more than 200 physicians on staff, and provides more than $8,000,000 in free care every year to those in need.