It appeared progress was made Wednesday in E.J. Noble Hospital's efforts to re-open.
After meetings in Albany Wednesday involving E.J. Noble chief Charles Conole, Samaritan Medical Center head Tom Carman and state health department officials, the health department announced "discussions are underway" with Samaritan.
Samaritan and Canton-Potsdam Hospital had both volunteered to help the Gouverneur hospital with its laboratory problems.
Problems at the lab led the health department to shut it down nearly two weeks ago. Without a working lab, most of the rest of the hospital was forced to close.
A carefully worded statement from the health department late Wednesday provided scant additional information.
"...discussions are underway with Samaritan Medical Center to identify potential collaborative opportunities to support E.J. Noble's efforts to rectify its laboratory concerns," the statement read.
The statement did not say Samaritan has been selected to manage the lab, but it also did not mention Canton-Potsdam Hospital.
Samaritan spokesperson Krista Kittle says talks with the state have been going on for a week, but there's been nothing definite.
"We'll wait to hear more as far as how the department and how E.J. Noble would like this us to step in and assist," Kittle said.
"I know they're looking at this point at the statement of deficiency and the plan of correction to determine exactly what the scope of our involvement will be."
The health department's statement also noted E.J. Noble's plan of correction - which addresses 19 problems - is being reviewed.
The statement gave no clue as to when the health department might decide the hospital's future.
In the meantime, Samaritan is gearing up in case it's asked to assist.
"We have identified a person to be able to be at E.J. Noble on a long-term basis if that's what's needed," Kittle said.
Hospital officials have said E.J. Noble can't remain closed for long, because it will cost the hospital too much money.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, Watertown, NY
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