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Sun., Sep. 21
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Gray seeking more information from MMH

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MASSENA - While Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said he feels it’s inevitable that Massena Memorial Hospital will end up as something other than a municipal hospital, he said he’s still not ready to make a decision whether the answer is to move to a private or non-profit facility.

Mr. Gray also said he was disappointed with the financial analysis reviewed by the hospital board on Monday.

“I thought the financial analysis would have been much more extensive considering what we paid for it,” he said. “Before we vote I want to see some data. We’ve seen some data, but I want to see more data.”

Among the questions Mr. Gray said he still has is how does staffing at Massena Memorial Hospital compare to other area hospitals? Mr. Gray said he would like to see a staff to bed ratio, as well as salary comparisons.

“We need to look at compensation for employees in various positions as it compares to people with similar titles in other hospitals,” Mr. Gray said.

While that data may be nice, Town Councilman John F. Macaulay said the salary information is not relevant.

“It doesn’t matter what someone in Potsdam is making, because it’s in a contract,” he said, referring to the salaries of MMH’s employees. “There’s no question that some of the administrative people have had pay raises much higher than the union people.”

Mr. Macaulay also said he had a solution for the hospital’s problems.

“No one’s going to want to hear it,” he said. “Everyone takes a 10 percent salary cut and pay in $5,000 for their health care and the problem is solved.”

Realizing that is not likely to happen, Mr. Gray said, “I think the only fix is to change the hospital to something other than a public hospital.

Should the hospital remain private and nothing changes, Mr. Macaulay said one of two things would happen - bankruptcy and the hospital closes or taxpayers would have to begin funding the hospital.

“The report said they would go red in 2017, which isn’t that far away.

According to information presented to the hospital board, Mr. Macaulay said the hospital’s debt that year would be $3.2 million, a deficit that would raise the town’s tax rate by $6.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

“Let’s say they’re off by 50 percent. That’s still $1.6 million,” he said, noting that would increase the tax rate by $3.20 per $1,000.

“We’ve just doubled our tax rate,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see that happen,” Councilman Thomas C. Miller said.

Mr. Gray said the hospital board is hoping to make a decision by the end of the year, and that’s something he said he supports.

“I don’t have a problem with a decision by the end of the year,” he said. “A decision has to be made within the next six to nine months.”

The final decision on the hospital’s fate, however, will rest with the town board.

“It’s going to fall to us and it’s not going to be pretty,” he said, noting he thinks it would be a good idea to hold another joint meeting between the town board and hospital board.

“I don’t think it would hurt to have another meeting,” he said.

Mr. Macaulay agreed and said the sooner the better.

“But we’ve got to get it done quickly,” he said.

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