Hilltown Healthcare moves to new building, and will soon add new patients

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

HILLTOWNS — Hilltown Healthcare rang in the new year at a new location, having completed a months-long transition out of its prior office, now owned by the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District. 

Nurse practitioner Jill Martin’s rural medical practice — the only one of its size in the Hilltowns — opened its doors at the new building on Dec. 19. The new address is 1705 Helderberg Trail, and is less than half a mile from the clinic’s original location directly next to the BKW campus.

Martin had taken steps to begin construction on the new office early in 2021, when she submitted a building permit application to the Berne Town Board. She later told The Enterprise that the new building was planned as a back-up, which came in handy when the owners of the building she had been operating out of announced in early 2022 that they’d be selling the property to the school district. 

Construction had not begun by that point, since Martin said she was not anticipating a move and construction costs were soaring. The school, which planned to turn the residential half of the building into district offices, had allowed Martin to remain on the property for as long as she needed to complete construction. The space where Martin was located is anticipated to be used next for another community-oriented business or organization. 

“Remarkably, we were able to make the move with only 1 day of downtime, as we did not want the community to be without healthcare during the Holiday season, especially with the increased rates of Influenza, COVID, and RSV over the past few months,” Martin wrote to The Enterprise this week. “We would like to thank our patients, community, family and friends for all of their support. In addition, a special thank you goes out to BKW for their hospitality and support as our landlord over the past few months during our transition.”

Martin also announced that she hopes to hire a new nurse practitioner soon, and will begin accepting new patients by April of this year. 

She said the practice has over 1,700 patients currently, with a “growing waiting list.” With a new provider, Martin said she hopes to be able to take in an additional 1,300 patients. 

She added that the clinic offers non-patients Department of Transportation physicals; testing for COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus; and vaccinations against flu and COVID.

Martin founded Hilltown Healthcare in 2019 after Community Care Physicians closed its Berne office, which was the sole large-scale health provider in the rural area; Westerlo has a single-physician micro-practice run by Dr. Myria Emeny. Community Care Physicians intended to redirect its Hilltown patients to its suburban offices in Guilderland and Slingerlands — a tougher commute for the Hilltowns’ aged population, particularly in the winter months. 

Altogether, about 1,900 patients were displaced by the closure. 

By the time the COVID-19 pandemic struck the area about four months later, Martin was seeing around 750 patients, she told The Enterprise at the time. The financial viability of the clinic was unclear when in-office visits dropped because of COVID, and Martin was unable to obtain the same aid that other small businesses were eligible for because her practice was so new. 

However, within two years, Martin’s practice was seeing over 1,600 patients, which was about 300 fewer than the number displaced by the Community Care closure — about 1,900. In adding 1,300 patients this spring, Hilltown Healthcare will far exceed that number. 

“There are some new and exciting changes that we are looking into as well, which we will announce at a future date,” Martin said this week. “Our goal is to continue to add much needed services for our community.” 

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