End of an era as Masssena Hospital closes maternity unit

WWNY End of an era as Masssena Hospital closes maternity unit

MASSENA, N.Y. (WWNY) - The end of the maternity unit at Masssena Hospital leaves the St. Lawrence County with just two hospitals doing births. Once there were five.

Generations of Massena residents have been born at Masssena Hospital. But that will end July 12.

After more than 60 years of delivering babies, Massena Hospital's maternity unit will close.

“It sort of tugs at your heartstrings. I was born at Massena Hospital. All my brothers were born there," said Joe Gray, former Massena town supervisor. "After July there will not be another baby born in Massena. No birth certificate will say born in Massena, New York.”

Hospital officials say the move was born of financial necessity. Its maternity unit averages about two births a week.

“It's really based entirely on the fact that the volumes here at Massena for deliveries have gone down consistently and steadily to the point where it's no longer sustainable," said David Bender, Massena Hospital CEO.

The after-hours emergency surgery unit will also close July 12. The hospital, when owned by the town, had been hemorrhaging money.

At the beginning of this year it was taken over by St. Lawrence Health System. It started breaking even.

“With a larger network now we can really focus on the things that we do best … From this point forward there should be growth, no further contraction," said Bender.

The hospital will help maternity patients transfer to Canton-Potsdam Hospital or others. Canton-Potsdam and Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center will be left as the only hospitals in the county doing births.

Hospital officials emphasize that the Women’s Health clinic will remain open. It offers prenatal care, post-natal and a wide range of other services.

Bender says Massena Hospital has the potential to expand its cardiology services. Services like general surgery, orthopedics and inpatient care have also been performing strongly.

The jobs of 10 nurses are affected by the moves. Bender said they should be able to transfer to other jobs within St. Lawrence Health System.

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