By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- Town Supervisor Joseph Gray was praised for forming a committee to look into ways to save Massena Memorial Hospital from closing its doors, and one speaker suggested that he add two more members to the group.
“Thank you Mr. Gray for bringing forth the committee,” Jason Garcia said, who is a hospital employee and vocal member of a community coalition in favor of the hospital remaining a public body. “The main agenda is make sure the hospital continues.”
At the recent town board meeting, Garcia urged Gray to bring two members of MMH middle management on-board, but wouldn’t divulge their identities at the meeting.
“They’re in fear of losing their jobs and being reprimanded,” Garcia told the board, adding that the individuals have a lot of ideas for saving the hospital and keeping it financially afloat, but because of their fears have only spoken “behind closed doors and in the shadows.”
“They’re afraid to speak out. They’re not pro-union, not pro-management. They’re pro-hospital,” Garcia said.
He explained his belief that middle management has the most thorough knowledge of hospital operations because they hear from both the laypeople and administration.
“They are the ones you need to listen to,” Garcia said.
Gray went on to explain to the audience that in the event of the hospital going private, the board can stipulate in the sale that the staff be transferred as is.
“There’s a lot that goes into re-organization that the town board can have impact on,” Councilman John Macaulay said.
Patsy Sullivan of Louisville, a retired MMH employee, asked the board if there was a way for longtime employees to stay in the state retirement system if the hospital is sold.
“I asked them to go down to Albany and talk to them to see about helping out with the pension system,” Raiti said of a past conversation with CSEA leadership. “I haven’t heard a word.”
Macaulay pointed out that employees at the very least won’t lose their up-to-date contributions.