Town of Massena wants independent assessment of Massena Memorial Hospital’s finances
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 8:21 am

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA -- The Massena Town Council is looking at hiring a consultant to do an independent analysis of Massena Memorial Hospital’s finances, Town Supervisor Joseph Gray said Friday.

“I keep hearing all these different numbers … we need to boil it down to the facts,” Gray said, referring to previous claims from MMH administration and unions about the hospital’s financial state.

The town has reviewed one proposal so far, but hasn’t decided one way or the other, according to Gray. He wouldn’t say which firm they looked at.

“I’ll disclose it at some point, but not yet because there may be more [proposals],” Gray said.

Some of the disparities Gray wants to clear up are included in a letter from CSEA to town board dated April 16.

CSEA claims in the letter that switching MMH employees’ health insurance plan would save $800,000 annually. MMH CEO Charles Fahd claimed at an April 10 public meeting that the switch would cost an extra $500,000.

“It’s easy to throw around numbers … show me some details, how,” Gray said.

CSEA stated in the letter that switching MMH to a “critical access” designation could save $3 million per year.

Critical access hospitals are in rural areas and have no more than 25 beds, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They maintain an average annual length of stay no more than 96 hours and offer 24/7 emergency care, USDHHS says. They must be at least 35 road miles from another hospital or critical access center, according to USDHHS.

At the April 16 Town Council meeting, CSEA labor relation specialist Denise Campbell said MMH could make the reduction from its current 50 beds and sustain current staffing, but Gray said Friday he doesn’t see how that would work.

“The (extra 25) beds aren’t being used right now anyways,” Campbell said.

“I find it hard to believe we could cut the beds in half and you would still need as many staff,” Gray said Friday.