Massena Memorial Hospital board says no legal roadblocks to privatization
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 6:11 am

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA -- The Massena Memorial Hospital Board of Managers announced on Monday night that Hancock Eastabrook has told them there’s nothing legally stopping them from transitioning to a private non-profit. But, the information means nothing without the results of a financial feasibility study.

“My understanding based on meetings with legal council is there are no legal impediments to changing our corporate structure,” board member Daryl Paquin said.

“The next part of the question is does it make sense financially,” board chairman Andrew Spanburgh said.

Spanburgh added that even thought Hancock Eastabrook has conveyed that information, their task isn’t finished. He said they have further study to do and will return to give legal advice in regard to whatever findings FreedMaxick Healthcare comes back with. They were hired last month to look at the financial side of the process.

MMH CEO Charles Fahd told the board that FreedMaxick gave a six to eight week time period to do their job once all the hospital’s financial records have been turned over – MMH CFO James Smith said they have all the materials they require. That means they may come back with answers as early as next month.

Spanburgh said patients shouldn’t notice any difference if the hospital goes non-profit. Both he and Fahd said they want to hold public meetings to share the information with the public once it’s all gathered.

“I think we’re going to have to have a public meeting to share information,” Spanburgh said.

Gray said the full compliment of both the Town Council and Board of Managers should meet prior to that.

MMH Board member Paul Morrow said he had heard rumors of “two or three suitors” interested in buying the hospital, which Fahd and Paquin denied.

“It’s never been brought to me,” Fahd said.

“It hasn’t been discussed about us being purchased by anybody else,” Paquin stated. “We can’t even be talking about that – we’re still a municipal entity.”

Hospital officials are looking at the potential transition for a myriad of reasons, including shrinking reimbursements and directives from the state Department of Health to look at regional collaborations and partnerships. They believe there are too many facilities for the North Country’s population, Town Supervisor Joseph Gray said at November’s Town Council meeting.

For the month of November, they reported a $2,722,189 year-to-date net loss, which is $950,599 further in the red than for the same time period last year. November 2013 saw a $798,417 net loss.

“It would be unrealistic for us to expect anything different going into next year,” Paquin said. “We can’t continue on this path.”