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Northern Lights could start home health agency in summer

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CANTON — Northern Lights, a partnership of four health-care organizations in St. Lawrence County, hopes to start operating its certified home health agency in the summer.

“We are going through the process of formally incorporating as an organization with the state,” said Brian D. Gardam, interim chairman of the Northern Lights board. “We’re moving ahead, but not as fast as we’d like.”

Northern Lights is a partnership of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam; Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg; United Helpers Management Co. and Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley. Mr. Gardam is the executive director of Hospice.

The new company was issued a certificate of need last year by the state Department of Health to operate a CHHA in St. Lawrence County. Two other agencies also have filed applications with the state to operate CHHAs in the county.

The potential influx of competition led to the decision of the county to close its own CHHA, which is in the process of winding down. The county also is served by Health Services of Northern New York, an affiliate of the Hamister Group.

It probably will be summer before Northern Lights starts seeing patients, Mr. Gardam said.

“We might hire some of the leadership before that,” he said.

The number of staff is uncertain and will depend on patient load.

“We may be contracting for some staff,” Mr. Gardam said.

Northern Lights will lease space for its Canton offices from United Helpers in the former Main Street Community Bank building, which it bought last year.

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