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Primary care clinic construction at E.J. Noble will start soon

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GOUVERNEUR — E.J. Noble Hospital is renovating a part of its new wing for a federally subsidized primary care clinic that could open this fall.

“It’ll give an advantage to the community,” said Rebecca J. Faber, spokeswoman for E.J. Noble and for Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam, which has a management agreement with the Gouverneur hospital. “It will be a safety net that serves everybody.”

The state Department of Health has given its approval for the clinic that will be run by Community Health Center of the North Country in 6,700 square feet of space leased from the hospital. The Cerebral Palsy Association of the North Country, the umbrella organization of Community Health Center of the North Country, also operates a federally qualified health center in Canton.

Higher reimbursements allow the federally qualified clinics to serve more people who are underinsured or uninsured. The designation allows the health center to charge on a sliding scale based on income and family size.

The centers provide patients with their own practitioners and focus on preventive medicine as well as a continuum of care, Ms. Faber said.

“The goal is to keep people out of the hospital,” she said.

Construction might be done by the end of October.

Final contracts with physicians have not been signed yet but may include practitioners affiliated with E.J. Noble so patients could stay with those who have cared for them in the past, Ms. Faber said.

The proximity of the clinic to other hospital services will make it easier for patients who need other work done, such as blood tests or X-rays, she said.

The clinic will be in the new wing of the hospital that had briefly been home to physical therapy, respiratory therapy and EKGs. Those services will switch to a renovated location in the older section of the hospital near Kinney Nursing Home, where physical therapy was before.

“I think they are going to be moving imminently,” Ms. Faber said.

With a new board and under management of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, E.J. Noble has been working diligently to regain its financial footing. The Health Department shut down the hospital’s lab last September, forcing the closure of some of its essential services.

Most surgeries and a maternity ward remain off-limits, but the hospital has regained a number of its lab functions and is waiting on a critical access designation that will decrease its losses by providing higher Medicare reimbursements.

The hospital decided to shut down clinics in Harrisville and Russell but will reopen its DeKalb Junction satellite by the end of July with physician’s assistant Ron Simmons, Ms. Faber said.

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