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River Hospital announces $7.5 million expansion

River Hospital
River Hospital's planned three-story building ( on right) will house primary care and mental health services on the same floor.

River Hospital in Alexandria Bay has one of the prettiest locations of all hospitals in the North Country.  It overlooks the St. Lawrence River in the heart of the Thousand Islands. More than a decade ago, the hospital was in danger of closing for lack of funds, but hospital leaders, with help from the community, turned things around. Last week, River Hospital announced a $7 million plan to expand. 

According to CEO Ben Moore, ever since the hospital started adding new services in 2006, staff felt like they were slowly running out of room to do their jobs. For eight years, River Hospital's primary care offices have operated out of five trailers outside the main building. Moore said expanding the hospital has been on everyone's mind for a long time.

"We think this will be something that will really help the efficiency of our operations especially getting out of the trailers and into a well-planned space for patient care," Moore said.

A new three-story building will house both primary care and mental health services on the same floor. The hospital's post-traumatic stress program for Fort Drum soldiers will move into the new building too. This will free up space for the emergency room in the main building to expand and add a new ambulance entrance.

Moore said over the years, the hospital has really focused on mental health care. The building blocks of that growth were first set when the Army asked River Hospital to start its PTSD program.

"The Army post traumatic stress program made us very attractive to practitioners that would have not otherwise come here. Once they got here they were happy to see both the soldiers and the community as well," Moore said.

Last year, that program was nearly canceled after the Army decided to move all mental health care onto military bases. River Hospital was eventually given an exemption and allowed to continue the program. Today, the hospital offers child psychiatry and counseling for veterans.

Money for the hospital's expansion will come from grants, the hospital's savings and community donations, according to Moore. Construction is planned to begin this fall.