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Northern Lights could start home health agency in summer

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CANTON — Northern Lights, a partnership of four healthcare organizations in St. Lawrence County, hopes to start operating its certified home health agency in the summer.

“We are going through the process of formally incorporating as an organization with the state,” said Brian D. Gardam, interim chairman of the Northern Lights board. “We’re moving ahead but not as fast as we’d like.”

Northern Lights is a partnership of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, United Helpers Management Co. and Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley. Mr. Gardam is the executive director of Hospice.

The new company was issued a certificate of need last year by the state Health Department to operate a CHHA in St. Lawrence County. Two other healthcare agencies have also filed applications with the state to operate CHHAs in the county.

The potential influx of competition led to the decision of the county to close its own CHHA, which is in the process of winding down. The county is also served by Health Services of Northern New York, an affiliate of the Hamister Group.

It will probably be summer before Northern Lights starts seeing patients, Mr. Gardam said.

“We might hire some of the leadership before that,” he said.

The number of staff is uncertain and will depend on patient load.

“We may be contracting for some staff,” Mr. Gardam said.

Northern Lights will lease space for its offices from United Helpers in the former Community Bank building on Main Street in Canton it bought last year.

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