State approves plan to close Massena Memorial’s critical care unit

Massena Memorial Hospital
Massena Memorial Hospital
Updated: Sep. 23, 2019 at 11:10 AM EDT
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MASSENA, N.Y. (WWNY) - A plan that could save Massena Memorial Hospital $1 million a year has been approved by the state health department.

The hospital asked the Department of Health last month for permission to close its four-bed critical care unit (CCU).

CEO David Bender said in a statement Monday that it's expensive to recruit and retain CCU staff. He noted that only about five patients a month meet the criteria to be admitted to critical care.

"Massena Memorial today takes a step forward in trying to improve its financial picture and ensure the continuation of quality, accessible health care for the people of Massena and the surrounding communities," Bender said.

Hospital board chair Loretta Perez said the board thoroughly reviewed the proposal before recommending it.

"It was the right decision then and we’re glad that DOH, after their review, agreed with us and approved us moving forward with the closure," she said.

Between closing the CCU and other changes, officials say the hospital will reduce staff by 11 full time and two part time positions.

Massena Memorial is in the process of transforming from a town-owned hospital to a private, nonprofit entity that's part of the St. Lawrence Health System (SLHS), which already owns Gouverneur and Canton-Potsdam hospitals.

Massena town board members voted unanimously to sell the hospital to SLHS. Town residents will vote whether to approve the deal in November.

St. Lawrence Health System has pledged $8 million of its own money to help fund the Massena Memorial deal.

The state will put up $20 million to pay off the hospital’s debt if the deal goes through. The hospital lost about $2.7 million from January to April just this year.

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