ACH CEO unveils new Strategic Plan

Posted on: 03/31/2014

March 30, 2014 6:00 am  •  Samantha House
AUBURN | Cayuga County's only hospital has plotted out a road map for its future.

And during the Cayuga County Legislature's full monthly meeting Tuesday evening, Scott Berlucchi, president and CEO of Auburn Community Hospital, gave local lawmakers a look at the hospital's plans.

Berlucchi started off his presentation by explaining the catalyst behind ACH's recently completed plan.

During a meeting with state senators John DeFrancisco, Mike Nozzolio and Jim Seward last year to discuss raising money for the hospital, Berlucchi said the senators encouraged ACH board members to develop a strategic plan. Once they had a plan, the hospital was invited to revisit the topic with the senators during the 2014 budget cycle.

While developing the strategic plan over the past year, Berlucchi said he's reflected on how far the hospital has come.

Over the past few years, Berlucchi said the hospital has worked to emerge from bankruptcy and improve its quality scores. Those improvements — paired with the fact that ACH is Cayuga County's only hospital — bode well for receiving funding.

"We're a vital access provider. We're a critical access provider," Berlucchi said. "We get special recognition and reimbursement from the feds and the state because of our status."

Along with offering a wide range of health care services, he said ACH serves as a large economic engine for Cayuga County, employing close to 783 full-time employees and putting an estimated $170 million annually into the local economy.

But to ensure ACH has a strong future, Berlucchi said the hospital must change.

Between 2014 and 2018, the Auburn hospital plans to implement a rural integrated delivery system — meaning ACH would shift away from primarily focusing on acute care and work on expanding its ambulatory, post-acute care and community health operations.

That focus, Berlucchi said, shifts based on what the community needs.

"It's not just institutional, everything being the hospital," he said. "We put the patient in the middle, and whatever is in the best interest of the patient, we want to have the capacity to move that patient throughout our integrated delivery system."

The price tag on those changes over the next five years is estimated to be $110 million, a price Berlucchi said the hospital plans to pay using grants and state funding.

Berlucchi said $95 million will go toward renovating and rebuilding the Auburn hospital — parts of which are over 100 years old. The changes will amount to "essentially building a new hospital."

The master facility plan includes a 55-bed acute care facility that would be "all brand new, augmenting the parts like maternity that we did a few years ago."

In conjunction, Berlucchi said ACH would set up an ambulatory service building to house a women's imaging center, a pain clinic and radiology services, along with a medical office building to offer primary, specialty, ancillary and wound care. Upgrades to the hospital's long-term care facility, along with a parking garage, are also included in the plans.

And now, with a road map that has been approved by ACH's board of directors, Berlucchi said he's working to put the strategic plan in action.

"We've come a long way in a short amount of time," he said. "And now we're prepared to take the next step."

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