FULTON, NY – Broken this morning by a local television news station, hospital spokespersons on both sides of the issue have confirmed that Oswego Health has submitted a proposal to A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital in an effort to mitigate the Department of Health’s decision to close inpatient and emergency services in Fulton.
NewsChannel 9 ran the report this morning, stating, “The biggest idea involves turning Lee’s ER into a branch of Oswego Health, keeping (emergency services) in Fulton.”
Betsy Copps, head of community relations for A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital, confirmed this afternoon that Lee Memorial did receive a proposal from Oswego Health. She stressed, however, that the hospital would not be discussing details publicly at this time.
“We’ve made a commitment with them not do discuss the details,” Copps said. “As we would for any other facility.
“Somehow information was leaked,” Copps added. “That was unfortunate.”
Nancy Bellow, chair of the Oswego Health Board of Directors, also said she did not know how the information reached the television news station. Bellow added that it is “too premature” to discuss any of the details that were included in the proposal.
Talks between Lee Memorial and Oswego Health started earlier this year when the Berger Commission first recommended closing Lee Memorial’s 67 inpatient beds and converting the hospital to an outpatient/urgent care facility.
Those first efforts were unsuccessful, however, after Lee Memorial’s Options Committee and Oswego Health’s Committee of the Future discussed hiring a joint consultant to discuss the opportunities. Talks stalled when the two sides failed to agree on the criteria for the consultant, officials said.
Bellow said this afternoon, however, that talks between the two groups are likely to resume soon.
“We are probably going to get our two groups together very soon to discuss (the proposal) further,” Bellow said.
Bellow also stressed, however, that any agreements locally would not guarantee approval by the state.
“Whatever we come up with locally would still have to be approved by the Department of Health,” Bellow said. “There is no guarantee that the state would approve a plan. … We can have positive conversations here but the Department of Health has the ultimate authority.”
Earlier this month, the Department of Health directed Lee Memorial to adhere to the original recommendations issued by the Berger Commission.
Copps pointed out that Oswego Health is not the only group that has submitted a proposal to Lee Memorial.
“Part of our strategy is to take a proposal back to the Health Department to see what kind of compromise can be reached with the state,” she said.
“This is a whole new chapter in the effort (to save the hospital),” Copps added.
While she did not identify the facilities directly, Copps said that the hospital is receiving proposals from “regional facilities.” She stressed that no decisions have been made, nor have any actions been taken at this time.
“We will be reviewing the proposals carefully,” Copps added. “Our goal is to preserve access to care in Fulton. We know that changes are going to take place. … But we are going to try to put together the strongest proposal that we can for the state. We will see what shape that takes.”
Copps noted that the hospital is not working under any strict timeline with this process.
“We will share any details as soon as they become available,” she said.