Defying the odds

Massena Memorial Hospital will affiliate with St. Lawrence Health System and become a nonprofit entity. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Massena Memorial Hospital is officially becoming a part of St. Lawrence Health System. Massena Memorial has received a $20 million grant, which is contingent on St. Lawrence Health System creating an entirely new nonprofit entity that will acquire Massena’s assets and operate the hospital as part of the St. Lawrence Health System.

The hospital’s Board of Managers and Massena Town Council met separately on Tuesday to approve three resolutions. Among them was to accept the grant funding and authorize an asset transfer agreement between Massena Memorial Hospital and St. Lawrence Health System.

The three entities signed an agreement to convert Massena Memorial from a public to a private, nonprofit hospital that would be part of St. Lawrence Health System, along with Canton-Potsdam and Gouverneur hospitals.

The grant funding comes from New York State’s Health Care Facility Transformation Fund, and will be used to help bolster the hospital’s financial situation and advance efforts to make sure Massena and the surrounding area continue to receive health care services locally.

The grant comes from the latest round of awards from the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program. Massena Memorial Hospital had applied for, but didn’t receive funding in the initial round of the program, which is designed to improve patient care through the development of high-quality medical facilities and programs that serve the inpatient, primary care, mental health, substance use disorder and long-term care needs of communities throughout the state.

“Transformation funds are just that — funds designed to help transform hospitals and other healthcare facilities to meet the needs of our populations today and into the future, in the ever-changing health care landscape,” Board of Managers Chair Loretta Perez said in a statement. “The transformation at MMH is underway and very challenging, but we are confident we will get there as a community. Much work lies ahead.”

The Board of Managers and the Massena Town Council had agreed in May “to the concept of entering into a management and operations agreement with St. Lawrence Health System,” with St. Lawrence Health System “providing management, operational strategy and guidance to Massena Memorial Hospital, subject to active oversight and supervision by the New York state Department of Health.”

That management agreement between Massena Memorial Hospital and St. Lawrence Health System was approved by the state Department of Health in June, and allowed St. Lawrence Health System to take over the day-to-day management of Massena Memorial Hospital under the leadership of David J. Bender, who was appointed as chief executive officer following the state’s approval of the agreement.

“This grant is essential in our efforts to restructure Massena Memorial and put the hospital on a path to financial sustainability. We are grateful to the New York state Department of Health for recognizing and bolstering these efforts,” Mr. Bender said in a statement.

“The state has been an invaluable partner, along with the MMH board and the town of Massena, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners and all stakeholders to ensure quality health care services for all the people in our region, he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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