Massena Memorial Hospital has announced that they will be closing their Brasher Falls clinic and also signing an agreement with St. Lawrence Health System to provide services for the emergency room. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Following a special Board of Managers meeting Friday morning, Massena Memorial Hospital officials announced plans to close its Brasher Family Health Clinic and to sign an agreement with St. Lawrence Health System to provide physicians for the hospital’s Emergency Department.

Hospital spokesperson Tina Corcoran said no jobs will be lost with the closure of the Brasher clinic.

“Nobody will be laid off,” Mrs. Corcoran said.

Massena Memorial Hospital has applied to become a Critical Access Hospital, a designation given to eligible rural hospitals by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It was created in response to a string of rural hospital closures during the 1980s and early 1990s. The designation is designed to reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to health care by keeping essential services in rural communities.

Mrs. Corcoran said the move would help Massena Memorial Hospital with its Medicare reimbursement.

“It’s additional reimbursement based upon where we were in 2018. It’s at least $3.5 million to our bottom line. It’s just change in reimbursement. We think there could be more as we get better with the cost reports and know those things we need to do,” Chief Financial Officer Patrick Facteau said in April.

However, one of the requirements is that eligible hospitals must be more than 35 miles from another hospital. The Brasher Family Health Clinic is less than 15 miles from Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

Canton-Potsdam Hospital also has a primary care health center in Brasher Falls.

“They have one, so it’s like a duplication,” Mrs. Corcoran said.

The move must be approved by the state, and patients will be notified about the options that are available at other clinics.

Hospital officials also announced that they will be signing an agreement with St. Lawrence Health System to provide staffing in the hospital’s Emergency Department, effective Sept. 1. The last day for the current provider, a company called team Health, will be Aug. 31. Dr. Jason Lorenc, chair of emergency medicine at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, will oversee the Massena Memorial Hospital Emergency Department.

“They did it for a couple of reasons. One was for quality, to have consistent physicians in our community. The other reason is it saves us about 10 percent, which equates to about a half million dollars a year,” Mrs. Corcoran said.

She said they had contracted with Team Health for several years.

“They were very good. We’re just looking at everything to improve the quality and for financial savings,” she said.

The gist of it

n WHAT: Following a special Board of Managers meeting, Massena Memorial Hospital officials announced that they would be closing their Brasher Family Health Clinic and signing an agreement with St. Lawrence Health System to provide physicians for the hospitals’s Emergency Department

n WHY: The closure of the Brasher Family Health Clinic is related to the hospital’s application to become a Critical Access Hospital, and the Emergency Department agreement will save about $500,000 a year

n WHEN: The state must approve the clinic’s closure, and the changeover in the Emergency Department will be effective Sept. 1

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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