"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
* 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
"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
* 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.
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
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
* 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
* 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."
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
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
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.