FULTON, NY – An A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital official says that despite the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s announcement that Oswego Hospital will receive a sizeable grant to make improvements to several of its departments, the goal of keeping Lee Memorial up and running has not changed.
This past week, New York State announced that Oswego Hospital was awarded $14.4 million in HEAL NY (Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers) funding. The money was designated to help the hospital move its laboratory department, double the size of its radiology department and make sizeable renovations in its emergency department, among other improvements.
Richard Abbott, chairman of the Lee Memorial Hospital board of directors, said he was surprised when he learned of the grant but stressed that it does not change Lee MemorialÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“s direction.
Three days before the June 30 deadline to eliminate its 67 in-patient beds, Lee Memorial learned that it was granted a one-year extension to meet criteria outlined by the Berger Commission and the State Health Department. The extension was granted to allow the Fulton hospital to pursue an affiliation with another hospital.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œNothing has changed with respect to Lee Memorial and the Department of Health,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚ÂÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â Abbott said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe are still in contact with St. JosephÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s and Crouse. We havenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t been rejected by either hospital.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t change our approach or strategy,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Abbott added. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe will still try to reach a partnership agreement to keep our services going. ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s what we intend to do.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Abbott said Lee is waiting to hear back on a couple of discussion items that have exchanged with both Crouse and St. JosephÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s hospitals.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe expect to get answers back on those discussion points without a week or so,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said
While he declined to say what the discussion points are or with whom, Abbott said that Lee is next to initiate contact with one of the two hospitals. He said the other hospital ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œhas the ballÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â on another conversation.
Regardless of LeeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s activities, Abbott said he was surprised to see Oswego receive a grant for so much money. Governor David A. Paterson announced that $280 million in grants were being awarded under HEAL NY to fund health care restructuring projects throughout New York State. The program authorizes the State to appropriate or bond up to $1 billion for projects that support the mandates of the Commission on Health Care Financing in the 21st Century (Berger Commission).
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe whole idea of Berger was to save money,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Abbott said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThen the state comes out with this announcement that they are going to spend millions of dollars on Oswego alone.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Abbott pointed out that Lee would be in line to receive money from the state if it made the transition to a diagnostic/outpatient treatment facility, as well.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is a little mind-boggling,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThey created the Berger Commission under the pretense of trying to save money.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Abbott noted that the majority of Lee MemorialÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s options committee and hospital executive director Dennis Casey met with State Senator Darrel Aubertine this past week.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe talked to the senator about our need for support from the state when we reach a partnership agreement,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Abbott said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHe has been very responsive to that all along. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ He has assured us that as we move forward, he will do what he can to help us continue to operate.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe senator remains committed to working with Lee Memorial to keep its doors open, the health care services in tact and the jobs in place,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Aubertine spokesperson Drew Mangione confirmed. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe senator has made it a priority toÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â maintain contact with the hospital, its board members and its staff and to do whatever he can to help out.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â