Massena Hospital Misses Out On $20M GrantPosted: Updated:
Massena Memorial Hospital has missed out on a $20 million state grant, putting its future more up in the air than ever.
The hospital has a big problem: pension debt. Tuesday, it learned the state will not pay that debt off - at least not right now.
“We have a pension cost that is exorbitant for a small hospital that other hospitals just don't have and that's one of the reasons we continue to struggle financially every year,” said Chuck Gijanto, CEO of Massena Memorial Hospital.
The state Health Department says it will re-consider the hospital's grant request by May. The municipal hospital wants to go private and ally itself with other hospitals.
“The state grant money, it would be essential to basically freeing and clearing the hospital to move forward with its future direction,” said Gijanto.
The hospital board and the town board have been engaged in a bitter fight over the future of this hospital. But this grant that Massena Memorial was seeking shows that the state Health Department will also have a big role to play in the future of the hospital.
The total debt comes to $12.5 million when workers comp is added in. That debt falls on Massena taxpayers if it's not cleared. Town officials say that won't happen.
“The town is responsible for that debt, but we are not going to release that hospital until the debt is paid off,” said Steve O'Shaughnessy, Massena town supervisor.
O'Shaughnessy said he wants a plan B in place in case the grant does not come through. He hopes the hospital and town board can start talking about that soon.