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GLENS FALLS — Glens Falls Hospital has signed an agreement with Albany Medical Center Hospital to become an affiliate of the larger hospital.

It’s not official yet: the agreement still needs state and federal approval. That will take about a year, said Albany Medical Center spokesman Jeffrey Gordon.

And the hospital has not yet decided what improvements or changes will occur when the agreement is approved.

“We’ll have a clearer vision of that as we go forward,” Gordon said.

But doctors and nurses at Glens Falls Hospital have been waiting eagerly for this moment. They have said they expect things to get much better under Albany Med. And they’re right, Gordon said.

“That’s our goal,” he said. “Our goal is to help the hospital’s operations, as well as the clinical care.”

Albany Med will look at ways to handle finance and procurement more cost-effectively, he added.

He could not speak specifically about Glens Falls Hospital’s financial woes and problems with its new billing and electronic health record system.

“We’ll certainly be working to address all the challenges Glens Falls Hospital is facing,” he said. “I think this will be a very positive arrangement.”

Albany Med already has two affiliates: Saratoga Hospital and Columbia Memorial Health of Columbia and Greene counties.

At Columbia Memorial, Albany Med focused on a pressing need in obstetrics.

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“They needed significant support for on-call and delivery services,” Gordon said.

So Albany Med sent its obstetrics doctors to Columbia, creating a rotation to make sure the hospital has doctors available whenever a mother is in labor.

At Saratoga Hospital, Albany Med helped set up specialty heart services.

“Those are based on the specific needs of the community,” Gordon said.

Last October, both hospitals announced they were pursuing an affiliate arrangement. They predicted then that it would take about a year. It’s not clear why it’s taking twice as long, but Gordon said Albany Medical Center Hospital officials are definite about the arrangement now.

“We’ve gone through our due diligence,” he said.

Glens Falls Hospital announced the agreement in a press release.

“Glens Falls Hospital is evolving to ensure we are strong not just today, but for generations to come, and we are excited to have reached another significant milestone toward becoming an affiliate of Albany Med,” CEO Dianne Shugrue said in the statement. “Albany Med has long been recognized as a premier healthcare provider, and we look forward to joining their organization once the affiliation is finalized.”

Albany Medical Center said it would help the hospital provide the “best care options possible.”

“Over many years, Albany Med has been working to build a health care system that provides our region access to the highest quality of care possible, and to ensure that residents throughout Northeastern New York can receive the type of care typically available only in major metropolitan centers,” said Dr. Steven Frisch, Albany Medical Center senior executive vice president.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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