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State Health Department stalls release of regional health care commission findings

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CANTON - State health officials have held up the release of the final report of a group charged with improving the region’s health care.

The report of the North Country Health Systems Redesign Commission was submitted to state Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah by Monday, the group’s deadline. However, the commission report has not been released, as officials cited the need for final formatting and clearance before the report’s public dissemination.

The report is anticipated to be released today.

The commission was given the task of creating ideas to improve health care in a nine-county region that includes St. Lawrence and Franklin counties and stretches from Jefferson County to Washington County. Multiple medical facilities in the region, including Massena Memorial, have undergone turmoil in the past few years.

The commission released a preliminary outline of its recommendations March 21. Among the initial ideas from the commission for improving the area’s care are expanding primary care, assisted living facilities and telehealth services. It also called for new medical collaborations and financial aid.

Other recommendations would increase regulatory flexibility to facilitate Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment projects, integrate behavioral health care services with primary care, create a new funding category for facilities financially stressed because of their transitional work, and develop the region’s health-care resources.

The ideas stem from the State Health Innovation Plan, which aims to improve patient care and population health while reducing costs.

Local members of the commission are Tedra L. Cobb, president and owner of consulting firm Tedra L. Cobb and Associates; state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton; Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, and Denise K. Young, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization.

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