In October of 2014, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital announced the establishment of the Cayuga Health System. This is an expanded, integrated health-care system that serves the entire region while preserving our focus on local healthcare priorities and delivery. It’s an exciting time, a juncture in our organization’s history that holds great promise for our future. The creation of this new health system is the biggest event for Cayuga Medical Center since it became a private, not-for-profit community hospital in January 1981. Now, as then, our board undertook a diligent review and planning process. In close collaboration with Schuyler Hospital, we carefully considered the needs of our communities, the sustained viability of these important community assets well into the future, and our mission to provide leading-edge health care that is comprehensive and safe.

Cayuga Health System unites our two organizations through an active parent holding company, without requiring a complete merger of Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital. Our new corporate structure is flexible and proactive. Should we choose—based on strategic merit—to invite other hospital and healthcare related entities to join Cayuga Health System in the future, we have the adaptability to do so.

The advantages of health systems

Health systems bring together individual healthcare providers to serve a larger geographic area and enhance the health of its residents. In the case of Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital, serving this broader population base has several benefits. First, it supports our ability to attract and retain exceptionally well-trained medical and surgical specialists who are recruited nationally. These physicians provide a high level of care in specialties such as neurosurgery, interventional cardiac care, and oncology. In fact, we are attracting the caliber of experts necessary to create centers of excellence, as we have in the Cayuga Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine with subspecialties in shoulder, hand, foot and ankle, joint revision and replacement, endurance sports, and physical therapy. In serving an expanded client base, our subspecialists keep their skills well honed by treating a higher volume of patients.

Another significant advantage of health systems is that they enable multiple organizations to offer more efficient patient care. Over the years Cayuga Medical Center has collaborated with several major medical centers to help our patients gain timely access to services we don’t deliver locally. When a patient from Tompkins County needs open-heart surgery, we can provide that patient with a direct connection to Rochester General Hospital’s highly rated Sands-Constellation Heart Institute. We share medical records and technology, so our doctors can be in immediate contact with each other. This continuum of care now encompasses Schuyler Hospital, Cayuga Medical Center, and our collaborations with the Sands-Constellation Heart Institute at Rochester General Hospital, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, University of Rochester Medical Center’s Departments of Neurosurgery and Orthopedics, and Mayo Medical Laboratories.

Since Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital started collaborating three years ago, both hospitals have realized cost savings, which is the third major advantage to a health-systems approach. Our ability to provide a higher level of care to a larger population base supports our core values, as well as our business goals. Each of our organizations is strengthened through benefits derived from economies of scale. We can reduce costs by reducing duplication of services. We can deploy our talent more wisely and cost efficiently, while remaining focused on the needs of our communities. In a preliminary step toward the formal establishment of a new health system, a number of physicians have obtained reciprocal medical staff privileges at both hospitals. This provides residents of Schuyler County with local access to orthopedists, cardiologists, general surgeons, and oncologists. Patients also have direct access to all of the services at Cayuga Medical Center, only twenty five miles away.

Health care issues are local and this model of affiliation recognizes that. The board of directors of each hospital will continue to focus on the quality and provision of care at the local level, while the system will consider the region’s needs from a broader perspective. With the creation of Cayuga Health System we are embarking on a more robust, agile, and progressive approach to serving the people in this region, enabling us to have an even greater impact on the health and well-being of those we serve. We are ready for the future and the challenges it is sure to bring.

John Rudd, President and CEO