DEBRIEF: East Hill Medical fills important void as communities struggle economically (podcast)

Keith Cuttler spends most of his days thinking about ways to get crucial medical services to the most-vulnerable parts of the Cayuga County. It’s been an evolving challenge, since coming into his role with a crucial local provider in 2016.

“The client base has actually changed, and probably not in a positive direction,” Cuttler explained. He serves as President and CEO of East Hill Medical Center. “Our patient base was somewhere around 61-62% Medicaid patients [in 2016] and in the four years since we’re approaching the high-60s, maybe even close to 70%.”

He says that’s a reflection of what’s happened in Cayuga County and the Auburn Community in terms of loss of industry and jobs. “You see that demographically, the area is not getting richer, as that’s the case in a lot of Upstate New York,” Cuttler continued. “It’s really suffering economically. So there are more people on Medicaid funded health plans today than there were before. That is a huge gap that we fill because a lot of private practice physicians don’t accept Medicaid.”

In addition to basic medical care, the facility also provides dental services. Cuttler says the demand is clear when looking at that side of the operation. “Our office has three hygienists and three dentists,” he explained. “We have a waiting list of somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve, or thirteen hundred because we’re one of only two dental providers in the entire county that take Medicaid.”

The question Cuttler and East Hill Medical are left weighing is simple: How bad is it going to get?

“We bring federal money into the community. About 17% of our annual revenue comes by way of the federal government, and that’s to allow federally qualified health centers to provide good care to those who may not be able to afford it,” he explained.

The challenge looking ahead is how reimbursement for services keeps pace, so that they can continue operating.

Cuttler spoke with FingerLakes1.com in recent episode of The Debrief Podcast.


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