GLOVERSVILLE – During the pandemic, Nathan Littauer Hospital took portable X-rays on about 20 patients on any given day, which was about twice the number of patients before the pandemic, according to Diagnostic Imaging and Cardiopulmonary Services Director Dwayne Eberle.
So when the hospital’s second X-ray machine, an outdated analog machine, stopped working reliably in December, hospital leaders knew they needed a new digital machine to help support the other digital machine.
The problem was that while the pandemic has increased the demand for emergency services, it has driven up staffing costs due to the need for contract staff, and greatly diminished the hospital’s ability to perform profitable outpatient procedures, leading to a budget deficit for the first time in two decades, according to Geoffrey Peck, vice president of Population Health and executive director of the Nathan Littauer Foundation.
“During a year when we had over $9 million of capital requests from our departments, we had a budget of only $2 million, so it’s the first time in more than 20 years that we needed truly emergency capital,” Peck said.
That meant in order to get a new X-ray machine, the hospital–which is a full-service, 74 bed acute care hospital with an 84 bed skilled nursing home–needed help.
Enter Stewart’s Shops and the Dake Family, which provided a $100,000 donation on Monday to pay for a second GE AMX 240 portable X-ray unit.
“We did have two machines–one analog, one digital–but as the analog system started to die, that’s when we knew we needed to reach out to a supporter,” said Sean Fadale, the hospital’s CEO and president. “And Stewart’s Shops was right at the top of the list to assist us in replacing that equipment so we can provide the care that is necessary for our patients and our community.”
The digital machine can instantaneously provide high-quality images, whereas the analog machine required a process that took between 5 and 10 minutes to convert the analog files into a readable digital format. That might not sound like a lot of time, but in a healthcare setting, where every second can literally mean life or death, time is critical.
“If you are in the middle of putting in a catheter, or you’re having a cardiac arrest and [doctors] want to see your chest X-ray immediately, we have it,” said Eberle. “Snap of a finger, it’s there for the provider to treat the patients.”
The machine can also be transported throughout the hospital–the ER, the intensive care unit–preventing the need to move patients to the imaging center, Eberle said.
All of that can boost efficiency, say hospital leaders.
“The quicker we can turn things around–for our patients, for our providers–the better off we all are, and the better potential outcomes we can have from those interactions,” said Fadale.
This is not the first time Stewart’s has provided major financial support to the hospital. The convenience store chain also donated $250,000 to help support the 2019 construction of Nathan Littauer’s Gloversville Primary Care Center–a project that totaled $4 million, according to Peck.
The $100,000 check for the X-ray unit was presented by Brittany DuRose, who manages Stewart’s’ Meco location.
“I think it’s just fantastic to be able to provide a benefit to help patients get timely images,” DuRose said.
Stewart’s said the company is happy to help local communities.
“Stewart’s Shops is committed to giving back to all our shops’ communities. Helping to ensure peoples’ health with a donation for a new portable X-ray machine to the Nathan Littauer Hospital is an important part of that commitment,” said Public Affairs Director Erica Komoroske.
The hospital will officially order the machine at its next board meeting on Feb. 22, and leaders expect it to arrive and be operational within three months, according to Fadale.
As for the hospital’s budget, Peck is confident the financials will return to the black as the impact of the pandemic recedes.
“We know that in 18 months we’ll be a different organization than we are today, but today is where we are,” he said.