The new year will bring a new owner for Massena Memorial Hospital. Chief Executive Officer David Bender said they’re on track for a new corporation, known as Massena Hospital, to begin operation on Jan. 1. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The new year will bring a new owner for Massena Memorial Hospital.

“We got the Certificate of Need for the NewCo (new corporation) to begin operating. 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,” Chief Executive Officer David Bender said.

That means the hospital will no longer be under the ownership of the town of Massena. Council members had 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.

“We did have a lot of support. There was a lot of vocal negative support,” Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said.

The hospital’s 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.”

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.

Mr. Bender said the grant funding is still working its way through state approvals.

“We have every hope that we will be receiving the money toward the end of the year,” he said.

“We appreciate the fact that the Department of Health came through with that $20 million. They recognized that St. Lawrence Health System was a company that could move this hospital forward,” Mr. O’Shaughnessy said.

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 has also agreed to provide $8 million toward the hospital’s operation.

Now, it’s nearly time for the hospital’s assets and liabilities to belong to St. Lawrence Health System.

“It’s taken up most of my time as town supervisor to get to the point where we are, where an agency like St. Lawrence Health System will be able to take this facility and make it bigger and better,” Mr. O’Shaughnessy said.

The gist of it

n WHAT: Massena Memorial Hospital is on track to become a new corporation, Massena Hospital, on Jan. 1

n WHY: The hospital has received a Certificate of Need for the new corporation to begin operating

n WHEN: As of Jan. 1, Massena Memorial Hospital will belong to St. Lawrence Health System

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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