Cortland Regional, Guthrie brief public on affiliation

Mark Webster, President & CEO of Cortland Regional Medical Center, left, and Joseph Scopelliti, The Guthrie Clinic President and CEO (Hannah Bistocchi/Cortland Voice)

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Cortland Regional Medical Center held a press conference Friday announcing more details of the approval of their new affiliation with The Guthrie Clinic.

The affiliation process has been in the works for about two years. Friday’s meeting with the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) and the New York State Department of Public Health (NYSDOH) in New York City confirmed final approval of the process.

The hospital has been operating on financial losses as its patient volume continues to decline. In 2016, New York State recognized CRMC’s importance in the Cortland community; in turn, their $19.8 million in debt was forgiven, and CRMC was left to determine who would be their partner moving forward.  

The hospital will be renamed Guthrie Cortland Medical Center beginning January 1, 2019, officials said.

Mark Webster, President & CEO of Cortland Regional Medical Center, and Joseph Scopelliti, Guthrie President and CEO, led the press conference, announcing Guthrie and CRMC’s plans to move forward with the affiliation process.

“In 2015, CRMC began some strategic planning as far as who was going to help us fulfill our vision for local access to high value patient services,” said Webster.

For CRMC, Guthrie seemed to be that partner.

“This was about increasing accessibility, lowering costs, and providing more out-patient services, and Guthrie was perfect in that journey,” said Webster.  

Guthrie has in effect created a lifetime relationship with the hospital, agreeing to provide a $100 million investment in the hospital's infrastructure over the next five years.

Guthrie is a non-profit integrated health system with locations in north central Pennsylvania and upstate New York. They serve patients in 11 counties, and they are a multi-specialty practice with more than 325 physicians and 210 advanced practice providers in 21 communities throughout Pennsylvania and New York. They also offer medical equipment and respiratory therapy products.

“This wasn’t about referring patients to Sayre [Hospital] for us; this was about the ability to place our ideals around community based care in a rural environment,” said Scopelliti.  

A team of professionals will come in from both organizations to determine the next steps to be completed over the next several months. Any physical renovations to CRMC will not be made until 12 to 18 months following the inception date of the new Guthrie Cortland Medical Center at the start of 2019.

CRMC is the second largest employer in Cortland County behind SUNY Cortland, according to the Cortland County Business Development Corporation.

“We expect to grow this organization beyond our current amount. Our budget this year is about $59 million in salaries, wages and benefits. I think the affiliation with Guthrie will recruit more physicians and programs—all very labor intensive— and grow our organization,” said Webster.