Massena Memorial Hospital officials making second of two site visits of potential affiliates

Massena Memorial Hospital officials making second of two site visits of potential affiliates

Massena Memorial Hospital officials making second of two site visits of potential affiliates

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MASSENA — Some members of the Massena Memorial Hospital Board of Managers will be making the second of two site visits to potential affiliates on Thursday.

“A subgroup of the board is making site visits. We had a site visit last week. Four board members went to one of the institutions affiliated with a big system, one of two we’re talking to. We’ll have another site visit to a different affiliate in the western part of the state on January 5th,” Chief Executive Officer Robert G. Wolleben said.

Earlier this year, Massena Memorial Hospital officials had contacted 17 health systems to see if they were interested in affiliating once the hospital privatizes. After sending out a request for proposal, the hospital received six responses. Five of those RFPs were compliant with Massena Memorial Hospital’s requirements.

That list of five potential affiliates was then whittled down further for discussions about possible affiliation with Massena Memorial Hospital.

“The Board of Managers has whittled down the potential affiliate institutions to two,” Mr. Wolleben said. “My hope is that after these site visits are done, that by the end of January the board will make a decision and focus in on one large system with which we’ll then have hopefully some fairly substantive conversations about how the affiliation might work. So we’ve still got a lot of work to do there.”

He had previously indicated that the hospital may not name an affiliate until sometime in the first quarter of 2017. He had previously declined to identify any of the potential affiliates while discussions were still ongoing about the partnership.

No matter who hospital officials choose, the current services will be maintained at Massena Memorial Hospital, according to spokeswoman Tina Corcoran. She said one of the goals as officials decide whom to affiliate with is to also bring doctors to the area.

“Our intent is to absolutely maintain our services. They want to preserve what we have,” she said.

Maintaining the hospital’s staff was also a priority as board members discussed the affiliation process, she said.

Finding an affiliate is one of the steps hospital officials must go through as part of their plan to convert to a nonprofit facility. They received $5.8 million in grant funding to pay off long-term debt, and establishing an affiliation with another hospital system was one of the requirements of the funding.

Mr. Wolleben said other steps in the conversion process are moving along.

“We did reach a bit of a milestone in that the state did approve our application to establish the nonprofit corporation. That was done on Dec. 8. So now we are moving along the road to filing the IRS tax forms. That will take us six to eight months once the IRS recognizes the corporation. Then we will actually ask the Department of Health to transfer the license to the new nonprofit corporation. That’s probably not going to happen until the end of the summer, early next fall,” he said.

At the same time, he said, the hospital continues to work on an asset transfer agreement that will determine what assets and liabilities carry over to the new corporation and what assets and liabilities stay behind.

Mr. Wolleben said the hospital’s law firm has talked to the town’s attorney “at least in a very preliminary way.”

“That’s in negotiation,” he said. “I expect that over the next month or so, those conversations probably will become much more substantive. We’re anxious to get through the process.”

Another step in the conversion process is just about wrapped up — the bond repayment of $5.8 million, which will be completed in mid-January.

“The checks were cut by the state to the escrow agent on 12/15, so there’s $5.8 million of state money sitting in an escrow account. By the bond contracts, they have to sit there for 30 days,” Mr. Wolleben said.

That means that, on Jan. 15, “the long-term debt will be expunged” for the hospital, he said.

Source: Watertown Daily Times
Massena Memorial Hospital officials making second of two site visits of potential affiliates

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