Supervisor says plan to replace Massena hospital CEO is 'work fast,' offers no specifics
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 8:06 pm

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA -- Town Supervisor Steve O'Shaughnessy at Wednesday night's Town Council meeting said the plan to find a permanent Massena Memorial Hospital chief executive is to move quickly and offered no specific details.

MMH's former CEO, Robert Wolleben, abruptly resigned for unclear reasons following Monday's Board of Managers meeting. Ann Gilpin was announced as interim CEO for no more than two months.

When asked at the meeting how they plan to replace their CEO in two months when it took about a year to find Wolleben, Town Supervisor Steve O'Shaughnessy said the plan is to "work fast" and made no further comment. Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center has been searching for a new CEO since at least February, when they announced Nate Howell would step down from their top administrative position in May.

Wolleben took the helm at MMH in December 2014, succeeding former MMH CEO Charles Fahd, who opted not to renew his contract when it expired at the end of that year.

The Massena town supervisor added that they currently have no candidates in mind to replace Wolleben.

He said Gilpin is being paid $40,000 per month with no contribution on her behalf from the town to the state retirement system.

O'Shaughnessy declined to answer further questions about how Gilpin was selected.

"It's a personnel issue," town attorney Eric Gustafson said.

The supervisor also would not say if Wolleben is being paid any severance.

On Tuesday during a phone interview, O'Shaughnessy acknowledged that town officials have discussed affiliation with Canton-Potsdam Hospital and added "we've talked to a lot of people."

At Wednesday's meeting when asked to name any other health networks with which they may be negotiating, he declined to comment.

The change in MMH leadership comes amid a yearslong process to privatize the town-owned hospital and affiliate with a larger healthcare network. Officials have stated on many previous occasions that affiliation is a requirement to continue receiving state and federal health funding, and they cannot affiliate with a private network with public status.