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Crouse North entity seeking permanent regional director

By Eric Reinhardt


SYRACUSE — The recruitment process continues for a permanent regional director for Crouse North, an entity that Syracuse–based Crouse Health and three affiliate hospitals in Northern New York have established.

It includes representatives from the leadership and board of directors of each hospital involved. They include Crouse Health, Carthage Area Hospital, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg, and River Hospital in Alexandria Bay.

Crouse North is overseeing the coordination of clinical and physician services in the North Country region, the organizations said in an April 23 news release.

In addition to his role as CEO of Carthage Area Hospital, Rich Duvall is currently serving as the interim regional director of Crouse North until the entity can recruit a permanent director.

As the recruiting effort continues, Crouse North is moving forward under Duvall’s interim leadership, Robert Allen, VP of communications & government affairs at Crouse Health, said in an email response to a CNYBJ inquiry.

“We will be evaluating potential candidates from both within the Crouse North system as well as from the outside,” Allen added.

Crouse North’s role in the North Country will be to provide the foundation for coordinating health-care services among its participating hospitals and growing their services, according to Duvall.

“Crouse North provides the structure and strategic support to enable coordinated planning and provider recruitment moving forward,” he said in the release. “Our goal is to enhance access and care delivery for the communities we serve by developing an integrated, system approach to strengthen and grow clinical and operational services among the affiliated partners.”

Duvall continued, “With our strong focus on keeping health care local, this structure will allow us to identify clinical programs and services that may not currently be available to North Country residents, improve coordination of care between the partner hospitals and take advantage of Crouse’s affiliation with Northwell Health.” 

As part of the collaborative planning process, Walter Fink, DO, has been named chief medical officer (CMO) at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, “further reinforcing and supporting current and future efforts to achieve enhanced integration of clinical services in the region,” per the release. Dr. Fink also continues in his role as Carthage Area Hospital CMO.

In December 2017, the boards of directors of all the hospitals announced a clinical affiliation, seeking to enhance health-care quality and access in Central and Northern New York.

As communicated at the time, the North Country affiliation with Crouse Health does not represent a merger or acquisition, but instead is providing the foundation to allow each institution to strengthen patient services in their respective communities while sharing best practices and expertise.

Since the four organizations announced the partnership, significant planning, sharing, and collaboration has occurred, including the recent establishment of Crouse North. 

“Enhance access” to care

The hospitals involved say they’ve been working to develop a system of clinical-care delivery that will “enhance access to health services in a number of specialty areas.” 

Planning discussions have involved “numerous” North Country-based physicians and board and medical-staff leadership from each of the affiliate partners.

They’re currently evaluating clinical areas that include urology, cardiology, neurosurgery/spine care, and obstetric and gynecology services. 

“The model we are putting in place will have numerous North Country–based specialists sharing clinical services as needed at the partner hospitals,” Dr. Seth Kronenberg, COO and chief medical officer of Crouse Health, said in the release.

The three North Country affiliate partners and Crouse Health continue to work together to implement current initiatives and to identify future opportunities to provide accessible, coordinated clinical care for North Country residents, including telehealth in the areas of endocrinology, cardiology and neurology/stroke care.

“Working collaboratively, we have made solid progress in a relatively short period of time and through the establishment of Crouse North we look forward to building on and advancing the strategic goals that brought our organizations together,” said Kronenberg.