By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- A spokesperson for Massena Memorial Hospital says the MMH Board of Managers has not been consulted with regard to Massena Supervisor Joe Gray's recent statement that the hospital should enter a relationship with St. Lawrence Health Systems.
"It is important to keep in mind, however, that no formal efforts to change MMH’s day-to-day operations or structure can be undertaken without the approval of the MMH Board of Managers, whom to date, have not been consulted on this most recent issue," MMH director of public relations and planning Tina Corcoran said.
St. Lawrence Health Systems operates Canton-Potsdam and Gouverneur hospitals.
She says the MMH board stands by the belief that privatization and patterning with a larger health care system.
"MMH has been contacted by other New York North Country hospitals that have stated significant interest in 'partnering' for the future with us. While local healthcare entities may be viable options, it would be short sighted not to review all potential partners before a decision is made," Corcoran said. "However, several crucial challenges to any such affiliation still exist, even with respect to the suggestions Mr. Gray has outlined thus far."
She says state law bars the mingling of public and private funds. Other health care systems simply cannot collaborate with MMH as a public entity.
MMH owes $4 million to the state pension fund this year, which Corcoran says could be an obstacle to a partnership with a larger institute.
"This year, we face a deficit of $2.3 million through July 2014 and growing. Next year’s deficit is projected to be as a public entity $3.75 million in the red, but will be even bigger if Medicare reimbursements and other revenue continue to decline," according to Corcoran.
She says the pension payment, if MMH remains public, could rise exponentially. If that were to be passed on to the town taxpayers, it could hike their bills by hundreds of dollars annually, according to Corcoran.
For details on Gray's statements that MMH should partner with St. Lawrence Health Systems, click here.