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Fri., Aug. 28
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Put the brakes on effort to privatize Massena Memorial Hospital


To The Editor:

Over the years, Massena Memorial Hospital has had its ups and downs, but through cooperation of administration and the employees have always pulled through. Being a community hospital, the responsibility ultimately falls on the town of Massena, and the people of Massena. From the beginning the hospital has been completely self sufficient. Everyone knows the health care industry is changing, and the uncertainty right now with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, whether it will help the industry or make it more challenging.

At present, MMH is being challenged. You hear of all the “losses” and money problems. The answer to this current problem, according to hospital administration, is to privatize.

What this means to the community is it would be no longer have any say in what goes on at their own community health care facility.

As a municipal hospital, everyone who needs health care is seen and treated.

As a private hospital, if you don’t have insurance or don’t have an accepted insurance, you can be refused. If a specific service isn’t profitable, it can be eliminated.

According to the administration, the main reason they have to privatize is to eliminate the retirement premiums. While the state retirement premiums are high at this time, they will be going back down. In less than five years it will be back to pre crash premiums. The employees at MMH have always taken less salary then comparable facilities to compensate for the retirement system premiums. If the hopital privatizes, wages will have to increase by 15 percent to 25 percent.

If the finances are in trouble, why is there no belt tightening, spending seems out of control. And why does the CEO of a hospital that’s loosing money get a 35K and 15K raise for his last two years.

While you hear of all the money woes in the paper and radio, you don’t hear of all the help the employees have offered but continually turned down.

The employees have for years now, tried to reform the health insurance offered by the hospital. They would pay higher premiums and contribute higher deductibles to save the hospital money, but the administration has repeatedly turned down the offers. I’ve heard this alone could save up to a million dollars, maybe more.

The employees have offered to take no raises for the next couple years to help keep expenses down. The employees have many ideas to help the profitability of the hospital, but the administration doesn’t consider any suggestions.

Massena Memorial Hospital has a very dedicated and experienced compliment of employees. With the current instability of leadership and poor management of funds, many are choosing to leave. This will not only effect the hospital, but will have a huge impact on the overall economy of Massena.

There are other opportunities available, which would increase reimbursements. Still not being considered.

All options need to be considered before making decisions, not just the two proposed by the CEO. Let’s make the best informed decision, possible, not one based on one individual’s opinion.

One last thing... I have heard that the hospital board members aren’t allowed to talk to employees without the board chair or Mr. Fahd and aren’t allowed to walk around the hospital without Mr. Fahd. What? If that’s true, something is very wrong with this picture.

Many think we should wait for the new CEO and see what a new pair of eyes on the situation brings. Considering and working with the employees would be a great way to start.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. The hopital may need to take drastic action, but lets be reasonably and start with basic good business practice.

As a former employee, I believe the employees deserve a chance to help the hospital they have dedicated their lives to.

Joseph Ward, RN

Retired former MMH employee

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