St. Lawrence Health System officially taking over Massena Memorial

Massena Memorial Hospital

MASSENA, N.Y. (WWNY) - St. Lawrence Health System is taking over Massena Memorial Hospital and has agreed to assume all of its financial liabilities.

Members of the Massena town board and the hospital board announced Tuesday night that the state is awarding the ailing hospital $20 million to pay off its debt and St. Lawrence Health System is kicking in another $8 million for operating expenses such as payroll.

Being affiliated with a larger health care facility has been part of the plan to change Massena Memorial from a public hospital -- it’s owned by the town right now -- to one that’s privately owned.

Town officials have seen that as the best way for the hospital to be financially stable and to stay open.

"The whole town board is very excited, this is a huge step" supervisor Steve O'Shaughnessy said. "The governor of the state of New York, Andrew Cuomo, understood that we needed this grant, the Department of Health realized that we needed this grant, and they also realized that St. Lawrence Health System was a necessary partner for us to bring this to a sustainable end."

“We will be becoming part of St. Lawrence Health System and hopefully our operations will be better,” Massena Memorial board chair Loretta Perez said. “We will make this a stronger hospital.”

Last month the state approved having St. Lawrence Health System -- which owns Canton-Potsdam and Gouverneur hospitals -- to manage Massena Memorial.

The hospital has been losing a great deal of money -- about $2.7 million from January to April -- and the path to this acquisition has been a rocky one.

The hospital has changed CEO's several times in a year and members of the hospital board have been removed and replaced.

Officials say if all goes as planned, the grant money could be available by December.

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