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CareCentral, manging care and cost

SCHENECTADY - It's a new way to try and tackle the healthcare crisis.  Instead of allowing patients to just keep coming back to the emergency room for chronic problems, Ellis Medicine has just completed its first year of a program called CareCentral.  It's intended to help folks manage their care while keeping the cost of it under control.
Earnestine Taylor and Sue Lansley have become fast friends.  "I'm just so glad I've got Sue cause at one point, I didn't have no one to help me," says Earnestine.  Sue is a registered nurse at Ellis Medicine, she acts as Earnestine's "navigator" in the CareCentral Program.
"Basically, this program helps guide patients through accessing care, helps them when they're in a crisis and they don't know where to turn or in some cases we just help explain how to get from point a to point b in the healthcare system," says James Connolly, the President and CEO of Ellis Medicine.
Earnestine is diabetic and lost her leg a few years ago to the illness she also has some other medical issues that make it difficult to get around.  She joined CareCentral and gets help with getting rides to the doctor's office and understanding her medications and how to take them.  Sue also helps her by connecting her with social services and helping her weed through the Medicaid red-tape.  "She helped me out because the chair that I had, it was tearing up and they didn't want to give me another one because I had just had my leg amputated, so she found me a wheel chair," Earnestine says of Sue.
"You have an older parent but you live two hours away, what would you do for your older parent if you were close?  That's what care central does for anyone who needs or wants the help," says Connolly. 
CareCentral is open to anyone.  You can access all of your medical needs, primary care, specialties, even dental at CareCentral Headquarters at 600 McClellan Street in Schenectady--it's a medical mall of sorts.  Connolly says it's cheaper for everyone to care for those with chronic illnesses in this setting versus frequent visits to the emergency room.  "Ulultimately, the idea was to create a system of care that would be available to everyone in this community of Schenectady, anyone who touches Ellis Hospital in any way and take care of them forever," he says.
If you're interested in learning more about CareCentral, call Ellis Hospital at 382-8050 or go to www.CareCentral.org