They fought to keep A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital open and battled with Oswego Health over the deed to the land that the former hospital sits on, but now, with the battles over, city officials say they’re knocked out by the look of the new Urgent Care center and plans for adding many more health services.
Common Council members Daryl Hayden and Tom Kenyon were among those on hand Monday as Oswego Health officials cut a ceremonial ribbon to dedicate the new Urgent Care center, which opens Thursday in the former first floor wing of the closed hospital. The current center, located in the former hospital’s emergency room wing, will move to the new area.
Mayor Ron Woodward was supposed to speak at the ceremony, but went home early from work with a minor illness. Oswego Health CEO Ann Gilpin joked Monday that she hoped Woodward would not need the urgent care center’s help.
Tuesday, Hayden and Kenyon were among those officials offering rave reviews of the new center.
“My god, what a beautiful facility,” Kenyon said, noting all of the imaging services that will be available in the new facility.
Fulton lost its hospital to the cutbacks ordered by the Berger Commission, a state panel charged with making health care less expensive. The commission claimed that A. L. Lee Memorial contributed to an oversupply of hospital beds in the region. The commission’s recommendations became law when they were adopted by the state Legislature.
Oswego Health opened the urgent care center immediately after the hospital closed and began creating plans to reuse the entire hospital building and the adjacent office building.
The new urgent care center is the first phase of the reuse of the building. Other medical services will find a home in the facility in the next year.
While there are no plans to reopen either a hospital or an emergency room in Fulton, city officials say the medical facility, rebuilt with $23 million in state funds, gives them a glimmer of hope.
“As long as that (state grant) money is going into the building, let’s hope someday they wake up because all the other hospitals are on diversion all the while and we need another hospital,” Hayden said. The facility is impressive, he said, but he hopes Fulton can get a hospital back someday.
“My feeling with the urgent care is if you’ve ever going to have a chance to get a hospital back or an emergency room, it’s with the urgent care. I think it’s an asset,” said Mayor Ron Woodward.