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New commission meets to look at north country health care

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MASSENA - A new commission that met for the first time this week will be looking at the state of hospitals in New York, according to Massena Memorial Hospital CEO Charles F. Fahd II.

Mr. Fahd told his Board of Managers this week that the appointment of the commission by Dr. Nirav R. Shah, state health commissioner, wasn’t a complete surprise.

“We kind of got a sense of this happening a couple of years ago when he initially met with all hospitals and their respective boards in Lake Placid in the summer of 2011,” he said.

Dr. Shah also met with individuals during a fall health care trustees meeting, and indicated that hospitals needed to work with each other or they would not survive. Tina Buckley from the MMH Board of Managers had been a part of that meeting.

Now, Mr. Fahd said, a commission has been formed that will look at how hospitals can best serve their communities.

“He is telling us that there was soon to be a letter released, pertaining to north country hospitals specifically. He states that the commission will play a vital role in establishing a sustainable, integrated service delivery model to meet the health care needs of New Yorkers and the north country region,” he said.

The commission includes 18 individuals representing a cross-section of health care experts, business people from respective communities, elected officials, patients and “other key stakeholders,” Mr. Fahd said.

“He states he’s appointed an exceptional team of commission members,” he said. “I don’t see any patients listed on the list of commissioners.”

Among the local appointees to the commission, Mr. Fahd said, are Tedra L. Cobb, a health care consultant in Potsdam, Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie and Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell.

“At least we have some people from the north country that we know,” he said.

The commission will be chaired by Daniel Sisto, past president of the Hospital Association of New York State.

“He’s been a friend of hospitals and health care in New York for the past 25 years. I think he’ll do an excellent job chairing this commission,” he said.

The commission will look at ways to increase primary care supply, establish more community-based options and support critical safety net providers, Mr. Fahd said, noting the terms “affiliations” and “partnerships” were part of the discussions.

“The term safety net providers is yet to be defined,” he said.

The commission is charged with providing its recommendations on the north country health care delivery system by March 30.

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