Glens Falls Hospital unveils new solar-thermal system at dialysis center
It's hardly the biggest healthcare provider in the Capital Region, but Glens Falls Hospital is one of the area's leaders when it comes to renewable energy. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, the hospital's new solar-thermal system is the first of its kind in New York State.
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GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- Three days a week, four hours a day, Gary Evans, 64, goes to the Glens Falls Hospital Renal Dialysis Center for treatment. Decades after losing one kidney in an accident, his remaining kidney began to fail about eight years ago.
"If I had known when I started how much dialysis helps, I probably would have insisted on getting it much sooner," said Evans, who lives in Moreau and didn’t begin dialysis until 2008.
Each year, the center provides more than 20,000 dialysis treatments to hundreds of patients. It's a highly technical process that relies heavily on heated water.
"We use about 200 gallons of water per hour, so it can be upwards of over 5,000 gallons a day," said Ron Zimmerman, the hospital’s Vice President of Plant Operations.
Until recently, the hospital used expensive natural gas to heat that water.
Now, thanks to a $25,000 grant from NYSERDA, the center has a new solar-thermal system that harnesses the sun's energy.
"Our reliance on fossil fuel to heat water is going to drop by 40 to 50 percent, so you can do the math on that," said Hospital President and CEO David Kruczlnicki.
While NYSERDA has provided funding for more than 200 solar-thermal projects across the state, this is the first to be built at a hospital.
Glens Falls Hospital executives said they're already considering replicating it at some of their other 29 facilities.
"Not all use as much water as dialysis but physician practices, behavioral health programs, rehab services, we're looking at all of those,” said Kruczlnicki.
Executives expect to recoup their investment through savings within five to seven years.
That leaves more money for patient care where many say it's most needed.
"We can take that and re-invest it in patient care, new technology or other services to make sure we're continuing to provide the best quality of patient care in the Glens Falls area," Zimmerman said.
"If they're not using as much electricity or natural gas to heat this water, then it's available for something else, that's the way I feel about any energy," Evans said.