Emails Show Split Over Hospital Affiliation

Emails Show Split Over Hospital Affiliation

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Emails obtained by 7 News show how divisive the drive to select a merger partner for Massena Memorial Hospital has become.

In one, CEO Chuck Gijanto is adamant in rejecting St. Lawrence Health System,  the parent of Canton-Potsdam hospital, as an affiliation partner.

“St. Lawrence was not chosen as it was made clear in their presentation that MMH (Massena Memorial Hospital) would be negatively impacted going in that direction," Gijanto wrote to Dr. Michael Maresca.

Massena Memorial has chosen Claxton-Hepburn Hospital of Ogdensburg and Crouse Hospital in Syracuse for affiliation. But Massena Memorial's doctors apparently think others should be considered.

In an email from Dr. Maresca to Gijanto, Maresca writes "Our entire medical staff voted for the affiliation with St. Lawrence" and "...ignoring your medical staff can have significant consequences. These doctors are educated and assume their opinions matter.That vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the St. Lawrence health system and unfortunately our board and yourself did not give it any credibility or even recognition."

St. Lawrence Health, which rescued Gouverneur's hospital, wouldn't be a bad place to start, says Massena's town supervisor.

“They've done a great job with Gouverneur. They're a good very hospital here in the North Country. So it's definitely worth talking to. Yes," said Steve O'Shaughnessy, Massena town supervisor:

The town owns Massena Memorial. Nothing can be final until it agrees to make the hospital private. The emails also reveal strong interest by others. In one Gijanto accused the town of snuffing one deal. That email reads in part: “UVM (University of Vermont) had been chosen and would be there now if the town had not intervened and forced out the previous CEO.”

The town supervisor vehemently denies the CEO's allegation. O'Shaugnessy said he's been largely kept in the dark on negotiations.

“The hospital belongs to the taxpayers of the town of Massena. We've reached out to the board of managers, which runs the day-to-day operations, many times," O'Shaugnessy said.

These revelations come as the hospital threatens to end the radiology contract of Dr. Maresca. He says it's in revenge for criticisms. Maresca was recently appointed to the hospital's board. In one email he tells Gijanto  “I have been appointed to this board. … And I'm not going to resign from this board even after you terminated my contract with your strong arm tactics.”

The hospital has denied terminating the contract.

The new private board that was appointed to take over Massena Memorial was to meet for the first time Thursaday, and doctors were called to the hospital for a meeting on the issues facing the hospital.

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