Massena council to sign hospital transfer papers

The Massena Town Council will hold a special meeting on Monday to sign paperwork related to transferring ownership of Massena Memorial Hospital to St. Lawrence Health System. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The clock is ticking on the change of ownership at Massena Memorial Hospital, and the Massena Town Council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday to sign paperwork to ensure the timely transfer from the town to St. Lawrence Health System.

Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said officials are anticipating an 11:59 p.m. Tuesday or 12:31 a.m. Wednesday transfer as the new year rolls in.

“They will shut down Massena Memorial Hospital at midnight and start as Massena Hospital and St. Lawrence Health System,” he said.

Massena Hospital is the new corporation name for the hospital once it falls under the ownership of St. Lawrence Health System.

Mr. O’Shaughnessy said Monday’s special meeting was called so they could sign documents required for the transfer to take place.

The hospital received a Certificate of Need earlier this month for the new corporation to begin operation.

“We got the Certificate of Need for the NewCo (new corporation) to begin operating,” Chief Executive Officer David Bender previously said. “We’re on track for a 1/1/2020 start date for the new corporation to be known as Massena Hospital. As of 12/31 midnight, we’ll shut down Massena Memorial Hospital. Under the current schedule, as of Jan. 1, 2020, the hospital belongs to St. Lawrence Health System.”

That means the hospital no longer will be under the ownership of the town of Massena. Council members unanimously passed a resolution on Aug. 26 to sell surplus Massena Memorial Hospital property to St. Lawrence Health System and set up a mandatory referendum that was part of the Nov. 5 election. Voters approved the sale, 1,963 to 174.

That will end a process that began in May when the hospital’s Board of Managers and the Massena Town Council agreed “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.”

The 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 day-to-day management of Massena Memorial Hospital under the leadership of Mr. Bender, who was appointed as chief executive officer following the state’s approval of the agreement.

On July 30, the hospital’s Board of Managers and Massena Town Council voted to accept a $20 million grant from the state Department of Health and authorize an asset transfer agreement between Massena Memorial Hospital and St. Lawrence Health. The funding is from New York state’s Health Care Facility Transformation Program and will be disbursed after Massena Memorial Hospital has become part of St. Lawrence Health System.

The hospital’s Board of Managers, Massena Town Council and St. Lawrence Health System later 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. St. Lawrence Health System also has agreed to provide $8 million toward the hospital’s operation.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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