Oswego Health Asks City of Fulton to Give Up Claim to Land Beneath Lee Memorial

The Fulton Common Council heard Tuesday night that Oswego Health should give the city something to get the land on which its current urgent care center sits.  Aldermen also heard that they should hand over the right to the land for nothing.  And they heard that they may not have any right to the land at all.

Oswego Health has proposed expanding its presence in the bankrupt former Lee Memorial Hospital to add more outpatient services and improve privacy for patients. The $21 million plan is waiting for the state budget to pass.  The hospital was promised more than $17 million from the state for the expansion.

In the midst of the effort of Lee Memorial to sell the building and land to Oswego Health, however, Fulton lawyer Fred Sumner found an old document.  In 1974, the city of Fulton turned the hospital over to the private non-profit that ran Lee Memorial until it closed last year.  The two parties agreed in writing that if Lee Memorial should ever stop being a hospital, the land — though not the buildings — would revert to the city.

The discovery came as a surprise to both hospitals and the city. (See our first report on the issue here.)

“The sale cannot close if we cannot offer clean title,” said Lee Memorial lawyer Rod McDonald of Bond, Schoeneck and King, as he and Oswego Health jointly asked city lawmakers to give up the city’s claim to the land.  He also argued that the city may not really have a right to take back the land.

“It will bring jobs to the community, it will bring revenues to the community, and it will bring health care to the community,” said Oswego Health CEO Ann Gilpin, who added that the expansion will add 20 jobs to bring employment at the center to 60.

“I really don’t think it would break Oswego Health to pay a nominal fee” for the land, said resident Jo Farrell.

“We’re not making any decision tonight,” said Mayor Ron Woodward.  He said the city has hired a lawyer to help city leaders understand their rights.  Aldermen seemed to have more questions than answers.  Tom Kenyon asked whether Lee Memorial had a right to continue with the sale once it learned that the city may own the land.  Peter Franco asked whether the rental fees Oswego Health has been paying to Lee Memorial should go instead to the city.

The discussion gave people another chance to lament the closing of Lee Memorial and gave Gilpin another opportunity to tout the runaway success of the urgent care center, which saw 19,000 patients in its first year and gave Oswego Health the confidence to propose the expansion.

Gilpin was asked during the meeting whether it was unfair of the city to ask for the market value of the land.  She did not answer the question.  After the meeting, she said that the hospital is waiting to find out how much state aid it will lose when a state budget is finally done and noted that the hospital will spend several million dollars of its own money on the Fulton expansion because the state would not back the full amount.

She said that any cost to buy the land might have to be balanced with a cut in healthcare services.  “We can’t take (money) out of an operating budget that is providing health care services,” she said.

Woodward acknowledged the desire for city taxpayers to receive something in return for giving up rights to the land, but added, “We’ve got to make sure we don’t kill something we’ll all regret.”


  1. I commented on the initial story about this and I can’t help but comment again. Oswego Health received a building worth more than $5 million dollars when the hospital closed. They also received significant state aid, which by the way comes from our tax dollars, not some magic money fund. The taxpayers are now going to hand over another $17 million dollars for the renovation of the building. In the meantime, OSwego Health touts that there were more than 19,000 visits to the urgent care center (former A. Lee Memorial ER) in the first year of operation. Let’s do some math.

    $5 million dollar building + $17 million dollars in “aid” from the state plus the revenue from 19,000 urgent care visits = we can’t afford to pay the taxpayers of the city of Fulton the crummy $91,000 assessed value of the land all this pot of gold sits on?

    To me, that comes across as bullying, with a touch of whining. I hope the taxpayers of the city of Fulton stand up loudly on this one. Oswego Health doesn’t need anymore taxpayer bailouts.

  2. Perhaps you should do the math again Jarred Thomason…the “5 million dollar building” was not GIVEN to Oswego Health. The 17 million dollars in state funding will continue to provide the fulton and surrounding areas with needed healthcare (keep in mind that the renovation of that building will greatly exceed 17 million due to the lack of maintenance from the staff at Lee Memorial, and the difference will be paid by Oswego Health). Out of the 19,000 visits to urgent care last year, how many do you think were covered by insurance and how many were indigent? Perhaps you should have ALL of the facts before voicing your distorted opinion. As for the purchase price of the land, that is to be determined. Also, unless you are a financial office of Oswego Health, how can you propose to know what can or cannot be afforded? You feel that Oswego Health does not deserve any “taxpayer bailouts” as you call them. How is state funding a taxpayer bailout? It is a way to keep healthcare available to those that have insurance (including state funded insurance) as well as people that do not have or cannot afford insurance. Perhaps the citizens of Fulton should be more upset with the governing board of Lee Memorial that cause the demise of that hospital and more grateful to Oswego Health for continuing to provide much needed services.

  3. I don’t understand who owns the building now, if it wasn’t given to Oswego Health then why do they want to be given the land? Seems like the “Urgent Care” set up now is the same care as you can get from going to your regular Doctor . You can’t even get treated for a deep cut or a broken bone at the Urgent Care. Also what happened to the merger talks between Oswego Hospital and A. Lee Memorial that would have kept the hospital open? I agree with Jarred

  4. Toni:

    A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital still owns the buildings. They will get rid of the buildings as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. Oswego Health is paying rent for the use of the buildings. The issue is the land the buildings sit on. The document says the city gets the land back when the hospital stops being a hospital.

    The merger talks failed, and the blame for the failure depends on who you talk to, or, more accurately, which city you’re in when you’re asking. Fultonians point fingers north to Oswego; Oswegonians point them south. No complete picture of those merger talks has ever emerged.

    You’re right that “urgent care” is similar to a family doctor’s care. Lots of folks don’t have a family doctor and all of us wind up needing a doctor after the doctor’s office is closed for the day or the weekend. The urgent care center is not open 24 hours a day, but the numbers tell the story — it’s been a busy place, busier than Oswego Health thought it would be.

  5. I believe that the city could write another contract similar to the one that was written in 1974. The building is being used for health care services. The city of fulton is a very greedy city though. Look at the tax rates. It is funny, the road work that is being done, and the bridge work, had nothing to do with the cities officials. I called everyone from hillary clinton on down, until I talked to the person who has the money to allocate. When I called the mayor Hayden, and Woodward, they told me there was nothing wrong with the roads, or the bridges, and that I was crazy. Now it is said that we have the worst bridges in the county. Woodward took the credit though, Hey Ron, how about a little thanks to me, and my husband. Why take credit for what you say you did, when you know the truth.

  6. John asks “How is state funding a taxpayer bailout?”. Um. Where do you think the state gets its money John. I believe it comes from tax revenues, local, state and federal. And taxes are paid by people and by businesses. When the state gives taxpayer generated revenue away and the receiving entity uses that money to make more money, well, to me that’s a bailout. And as far as the $5.8 million dollar hospital building is concerned, that building will go to Oswego Health once the bankruptcy is complete as you well know.
    You should do Public Relations for Oswego Health…oh wait…..

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